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The first nuclear power plant in Saudi Arabia will be ready by 2020 but it will take longer to become fully operational and add capacity to the kingdom's over-stretched grid.
"There are a lot of things that need to be done, but our target [for a first plant] is 2020," Ibrahim Babelli, a consultant at the King Abdullah Centre for Atomic and Renewable Energy (Kacare), was reported as saying by the FT.
Kacare was set up last year to drive forward the kingdom's nuclear plans and has been given a 63 sq-km site outside Riyadh.
Mr Babelli said the process of site selection for the first series of reactors had started. He said that ground-breaking at a first site will start by 2014 but that it would take 10 years for the first reactor to be connected to the grid.
Total domestic energy demand in Saudi Arabia was around 3.4 mboepd in 2010, said Babelli, and expects this to more than double to 8.3 mboepd by 2028.
Babelli said that under one scenario, that would mean that 40-60 nuclear reactors would have to be built by 2030 or 4-6 reactors built every year from 2020.
In 2009, Saudi electricity capacity stood at 51.2GW at 79 plants, 50 of them run by Saudi Electricity Company and 10 by the Saline Water Conversion Corporation. Babelli expects capacity to rise to 110GW in 2030.
Saudi Arabia alone accounts for 18 per cent of the world's desalination by volume and occasionally has to import water from South Korea.