Selin ATAY-TDO-Joseph Kechichian, senior researcher at the King Faisal Center for Islamic Studies, said Saudi Arabia, which wants to build a large number of nuclear power plants in the long term, is turning to Atomic Energy for electricity generation.
Riyadh is currently in the process of selecting a firm for the construction of nuclear facilities, Kechichian said, stressing that the country will not have to spend oil for electricity generation thanks to nuclear energy so that oil can be used to meet different needs.
“The construction of nuclear facilities will serve Riyadh's goal of balancing oil use in many sectors, from the chemical industry to transportation. Although historical accidents such as Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island have prejudiced nuclear energy, selecting companies with a strong safety background and training local supervisors to monitor power plants will significantly reduce the risks.” he said.
Energy analyst Jim Krane said the planning and building processes at nuclear plants took at least 10 years.
Saudi Arabia is also focused on investing in areas such as tourism, technology and entertainment, Kechichian said, adding that the vision for 2030 at this point aims to attract foreign investors to the country and increase job opportunities for citizens.
Under the 2030 vision spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Selman, the Riyadh administration aims to make Saudi Arabia's economy and energy independent of hydrocarbons. In this direction, Saudi Arabia became the second Gulf country to invest in nuclear energy after Abu Dhabi.
Saudi Arabia, which is in talks with five companies from the US, China, France, South Korea and Russia, is expected to tender for its first nuclear power plant in 2020.