Saudi Arabia Takes Significant Step Toward Formal Tender for Peaceful Nuclear Power Plants

Saudi Arabia has sent a request for information (RFI) to international suppliers to build two nuclear power plants, a first step towards a formal tender, three sources told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to extract uranium domestically as part of its nuclear power program and will start building its first nuclear reactors next year. Extracting its own uranium makes sense for Saudi Arabia from an economic point of view, Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani, head of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) said.

In a speech at an international nuclear power conference in Abu Dhabi, he did not specify whether Saudi Arabia seeks to also enrich and reprocess uranium – steps in the fuel cycle which are especially sensitive as they can open up the possibility of military uses of the material.

The kingdom is considering building 17.6 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of about 17 reactors, “making it one of the biggest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan,” Reuters notes.

Saudi Arabia has just sent the request for information to various companies and it is being examined,” one industry source told Reuters, adding that firms had about two months to respond.