Nick Butler: In normal circumstances, the decision by any country to improve the efficiency of its energy supplies by investing in new technology would barely be worthy of attention. But Saudi Arabia is not a normal country and the combination of the technology chosen — civil nuclear power — and concerns over the strategy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made the Saudi move a cause of debate. The Saudi plans for nuclear development are not new. Eight years ago a target of building 16 reactors over 20 years was announced. The commitment has been regularly repeated since and updated to a new target of 17 gigawatts of capacity by 2032 or 2040 Dialogues were established with a number of the countries and companies capable of supplying the necessary reactors — including South Korea, Russia, France and China, as well as the US through General Electric and Westinghouse. Various pre-development studies were started. But no construction work has begun and Saudi’s growing electricity needs continue to be met almost entirely by oil and natural gas.
FT 25th March 2019 read more »