Keywords: nuclear energy, Middle East and North Africa, MENA, desalination, process heat, GCC countries, Gulf Cooperation Council states, uranium fuel cycle, next generation NPP, nuclear power plants, nuclear non-proliferation, International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, private investment, higher education, vocational training, collaboration, uranium resources, regulation, safety, standardisation, diversification
The challenges of introducing nuclear power in the Gulf Cooperation Council states
Nuclear power is a mature industry with an incredible record of safety and reliability, without the emission of greenhouse gases, and one that is becoming economically attractive for private investment. The current interest in nuclear power for meeting future electricity and seawater desalination needs in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) states and other countries in the Middle East is prudent, logical and timely. An achievable goal for the GCC states would be to secure 30% of their future needs of electricity and of process heat for industrial applications and seawater desalination from nuclear power by 2030. This is equivalent to completing the construction of two 1500 MWe nuclear power plants each year starting in 2016. Accomplishing this goal requires a multifaceted approach to addressing many challenges that include: 1) stimulating private investments in nuclear energy; 2) establishing specialised higher education and vocational training programmes; 3) maintaining close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and countries with advanced nuclear capabilities; 4) establishing a viable heavy industry; 5) collaborating with other countries in the Middle East on the development of a common electric grid; 6) investing in the mining and exploration of uranium resources; 7) identifying and licensing suitable sites for construction of nuclear plants; 8) establishing a regulatory and safety board that has a government oversight and an effective technical and R&D infrastructure; 9) considering standardisation versus diversification in nuclear reactor types.