Middle East nuclear power to quadruple in ten years

06 March 2018

Nuclear electricity generation capacity in the Middle East is expected to increase from 3.6 gigawatts this year to 14.1 GWe by 2028 thanks to new construction start-ups and recent agreements between Middle Eastern countries and nuclear vendors, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said yesterday. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will lead near-term growth by installing 5.4 GWe of nuclear capacity by 2020, it said.

Middle East nuclear power plants - 460 (EIA)
Nuclear power plants in the Middle East (Image: EIA)

The projections follow the EIA's International Energy Outlook, published last September, which presents an assessment of international energy markets through to 2050.

"The growth in nuclear capacity in the Middle East is largely attributable to countries in the region seeking to enhance energy security by reducing reliance on fossil fuel resources," the EIA said, noting that fossil fuels accounted for 97% of electricity production in the region last year, with natural gas accounting for about 66% of electricity generation and oil for 31%. The remaining 3% comes from nuclear, hydropower, and other renewables.

Middle East countries are also adopting nuclear generation to meet increasing electricity demand resulting from population and economic growth, the EIA noted. Regional electricity production was more than 1 terawatt hour last year, and EIA expects electricity demand to increase 30% by 2028. This growth rate is higher than the global average of 18% over the same period, and higher than the 24% expected growth in non-OECD countries.


The EIA listed the five key developments in the region.

Iran is building a two-unit nuclear plant, Bushehr-II, which is designed to add 1.8 GWe of nuclear capacity when completed in about 2026. Bushehr-I facility, which came online in 2011, was the first nuclear power plant in the Middle East. It has one 1000 MWe reactor unit producing about 5.9 GWh of electricity per year.

The UAE is constructing the four-unit Barakah nuclear power plant, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. The 1300 MWe Barakah unit 1, which was started in 2012 and completed last year, is expected to begin electricity production by the middle of this year.

Turkey began construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant late last year. This is a four-unit facility designed to add 4800 MWe of nuclear capacity to Turkey's generation mix. The first reactor unit is scheduled to be completed by 2025.

Saudi Arabia is planning to build its first nuclear power plant and is expected to award a construction contract for a 2800 GWe facility by the end of this year. It has solicited from five vendors from China, France, Russia, South Korea and the USA to carry out the engineering, procurement, and construction work on two nuclear reactors. Construction is expected to begin in about 2021 at one of the two proposed sites - either Umm Huwayd or Khor Duweihin.

Jordan plans to install a two-unit 2000 MWe nuclear plant and has been conducting nuclear feasibility studies with Russia’s Rosatom since 2016. In early 2017, Jordan solicited bids for supplying turbines and electrical systems, and construction is expected to start next year and to be completed by 2024.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News