The colleagues at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research have recently organized a seminar titled “Will Nuclear Energy Play a Role in Achieving the Net Zero Carbon Emission Goal in the State of Kuwait?”. The inquiry raised by this seminar encompasses the trajectory of three attempts adopted by Kuwait since the 1980s, leading up to the year 2011, which were halted due to the events of the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan. Not only did this incident result in the withdrawal of Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar from the Gulf Nuclear Energy Program established in 2006.
Most of the researchers in the seminar were supportive of developing a nuclear energy project to keep pace with the population and industrial growth in Kuwait. However, there are numerous challenges that need to be addressed before taking this step. One of the most crucial challenges is the lack of local societal acceptance of nuclear energy, as indicated by the researchers in their preliminary survey on the subject. Additionally, adopting a new energy generation model, with a significant cost that extends the investment lifespan to around a hundred years, poses a major challenge for any country. For instance, in the UK, the cost of the Hinkley Point station was approximately £31 billion, leading the British government to provide loan guarantees and enter into a 35-year power purchase agreement to ensure the project’s success.
Despite the challenges associated with nuclear energy projects, their development must be seriously considered at the Gulf level. The experience of the United Arab Emirates with the Barakah Nuclear Power Station serves as a model to be emulated. In the future, it may be necessary to adopt supportive projects for nuclear technology to integrate with ambitious plans in the renewable energy sector. Nuclear energy can compensate for the fluctuations in some renewable energy sources, ensuring a sustainable energy source. This highlights the importance of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy in Saudi Arabia, contributing to the government’s efforts to incorporate atomic and renewable energy as an essential part of the Kingdom’s future energy mix.
The efforts made by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in developing nuclear technology for peaceful use should be leveraged for the benefit of the Gulf, as other Gulf countries need to explore the possibility of adopting this technology. This is especially relevant with the significant advancements in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), which represent a qualitative leap for nuclear energy as they require less expertise in construction and operation. Their deployment is faster and easier, as these reactors can operate on ships and be transported after manufacturing. Therefore, this technology may be suitable for the needs of some Gulf countries, provided the appropriate conditions and necessary knowledge base are established.
Note: This article has been automatically translated.
Source: Alwatan News
Dr. Abdulla Alabbasi, Director of the Energy and Environment Program