Saudi Arabia lays research reactor foundation stone

06 November 2018

A foundation stone for Saudi Arabia's first research reactor has been laid at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).

Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the inauguration ceremonies (Image: Saudi Press Agency)

The low-energy research reactor was one of seven strategic projects in renewable and atomic energy, water desalination, genetic medicine and aircraft manufacturing formally inaugurated yesterday by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is also vice president of Saudi Arabia's Council of Ministers and the country's minister of defence.

Saudi Arabia's official press agency did not give further details of the research reactor project. However, according to the Riyadh Daily, construction of the 100 KW reactor is already under way and the project is due to be completed by the end of 2019.

"[The] specifications and design of the reactor were developed by Saudi nuclear experts and with the participation of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy and international expert houses with the highest international safety standards," it reported.

Saudi Arabia intends to add nuclear power to the country's energy mix with the objective of diversifying and boosting its production capacity. The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) last year announced that it was soliciting proposals for 2.9 GWe of nuclear capacity from China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. The country is also advancing plans for small reactors.

Research reactors have been included in the scope of cooperation agreements previously signed by Saudi Arabia with China, Russia and South Korea. A programme of cooperation signed in October 2017 between KA-CARE and Russian nuclear company Rosatom focused on small and medium reactors and on building a new research reactor.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in July completed a mission to assess the development of the infrastructure required for a Saudi nuclear power programme, and KA-CARE has contracted French engineering group Assystem to conduct site characterisation and impact studies for the country's first nuclear power plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News