In his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, we have no doubt that US Energy Secretary Perry discussed that nations’ plans to embark on a 16 nuclear reactor building spree. The country, which suffers from electricity shortages, intends over two decades to add 17 GW of nuclear electric and 40 GW of solar generating capacity to its grid. Their grid presently has power generating capacity of only 55 GWs implying a virtual doubling of capacity. To begin the process the Saudis will soon solicit bids for two reactors. We expect bids for these initial projects from at least five national consortia: South Korean, French, Russian, Chinese and American (Westinghouse). In the United Arab Emirates, the first of four units at the Barakah nuclear power station is slated to soon enter commercial operation. These 4 APR 1400 units are being constructed by South Korea’s KEPCO at an estimated cost of $30 billion. But unlike the Saudis, officials in the UAE expressed no interest in uranium mining and reprocessing, services the plant’s builder is typically only too happy to provide. Another four reactor project was announced in Egypt. The El Dabaa Nuclear Power Project will host four Russian-designed VVER 1200 reactors. This project is also projected to cost $30 billion and is 85 percent financed by the vendor, Rosatom. The Iranians also have a Russian-design 1 GW nuclear reactor at its Bushehr power station. Interestingly, this unit began its life as a Siemens-designed unit whose construction was terminated due to the 1979 revolution in Iran. Eventually Russians engineers took over and completed the plant.
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