Saudi Arabia: Nuclear/Solar Power Expansion

Saudi Arabia has recently announced a very aggressive plan to start introducing nuclear power plants and big solar farms into their power supply grid to replace hyrdrocarbons. I find it insane the U.S. does not pursue nuclear energy in all forms. It would stabilize the entire country and be a source of power for decades to come. Here is the entire article but will pass along the highlights.

The Saudi Royal Family hopes that nuclear will provide 15% of the Kingdom’s power (18 GWe) within 20 years, together with a similar 15% (40 GWe) from solar. They are planning to invest $80 billion to build over a dozen nuclear power plants as fast as possible, intending for the first reactor to come online in only eight years. Investment in solar for the same energy production will take about $240 billion in investment, although breakthrough technologies in the next decade should cut that cost in half.

Total electricity consumption in Saudi Arabia exceeds 200 billion kWhs per year and is expected to double by 2030

Two largest uses of power in the Middle East are for desalinating seawater and residential cooling. Saudi Arabia desalinates over 250 billion gallons of seawater each year, and that number will double in the next ten years as the population and industrialization increase.

Saudi Arabia burns almost a billion barrels of oil a year to produce electricity

Saudi’s neighbor, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates started towards the solar/nuclear combination as well. Here is an interesting note to show how much solar it takes to equal nuclear power

Recently the UAE opened what was, at the time, the largest solar plant in the world, the 100 MW Shams 1 at a cost of about $600 million. But two hundred Shams 1 arrays will be needed to equal the output of the four Barakah nuclear reactors.


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