Saudi Arabia Approves New Nuclear Energy Policy

The Saudi government has published new guidelines around nuclear development for peaceful use, according to Khaled Al-Faleh, Energy Minister and Chairman of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE).

As the world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia has developed extensive plans to diversify its economy and lessen its dependence on oil sales for most of its official revenue. Meanwhile, energy consumption in Saudi Arabia has been rising at more than five percent per year until 2017, and Saudi Arabia’s Electricity and Co-generation Regulatory Authority predicts electricity consumption will double over the next 15 years.

To satisfy growing energy demands and as part of the Vision 2030 reform plan, the country wants to meet a larger share of its energy needs from renewables such as solar power and from nuclear plants. According to KACARE 55 percent of the country’s power supply will come from solar, wind, geothermal and nuclear energy combined by 2040.

The announcement comes following a meeting in London between Saudi officials and United States Energy Secretary Rick Perry to discuss the Kingdom’s civil nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia has assured that its nuclear program will be in “full compliance with the principle of transparency” and meet nuclear safety standards “in accordance with an independent regulatory and supervisory framework.” The new guidelines published will ensure that nuclear development for peaceful use complies with all legislation, conventions and international agreements. It also called for compliance with the international standards for nuclear waste disposal and to ensure that the continuity of the program sustained and improved the sector in the Kingdom.

Financing for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear-power plants will come from the vendors and from the government. The projects will cost the Kingdom around $67 billion over the next five years, according to Energy Minister Faleh.