Feasibility study for Saudi Arabian HTGR project

17 March 2017

China and Saudi Arabia have signed a cooperation agreement for a joint study on the feasibility of constructing high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) in the Middle Eastern country.

CNEC-KACARE March 2017 - 460 (CNEC)
Gu and Yamani sign the HTGR agreement (Image: CNEC)

The agreement was signed yesterday in Beijing by China Nuclear Energy Engineering Group (CNEC) president Jun Gu and King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) president Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani. The signing was witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Arabia's King Salman.

In a statement, CNEC said that under the agreement the two companies will consider the development of system solutions for the investment and construction of HTGRs. They will also examine cooperation in intellectual property and the development of a domestic industrial supply chain for HTGRs built in Saudi Arabia. The feasibility study, it said, will also support the Saudi government in its decisions related to an HTGR project.

The latest agreement follows the signing in January of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between China and Saudi Arabia on the construction of HTGRs.

CNEC said that since the signing of that MOU, the two countries have been looking at site selection for the project, building a regulatory system, training personnel and other aspects of the project.

Although Saudi Arabia's nuclear program is in its infancy, the Kingdom has plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. A 2010 royal decree identified nuclear power as essential to help meet growing energy demand for both electricity generation and water desalination, while reducing reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources.

In September 2015, contracts were signed between the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) and KA-CARE to support their cooperation in developing KAERI's SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor). This is a 330 MWt (100 MWe) pressurised water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features.

A demonstration HTR-PM unit under construction at Shidaowan near Weihai city in China's Shandong province. That plant will initially comprise twin HTR-PM reactor modules driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine. Construction started in late 2012 and it is scheduled to start commercial operation in late 2017.

A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTRs at Ruijin city in China's Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year, with grid connection in 2021.

CNEC has been actively promoting its HTR technology overseas and has already signed agreements with other countries - including the UAE and South Africa to consider the construction of HTGR plants. Last August, CNEC signed an agreement with Indonesia's National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan) to jointly develop an HTGR in Indonesia.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News