I have been aware that many nations in the Middle East are looking towards nuclear power as a vital part of their future energy mix, but until this morning I was unaware of the scope of the Kingdom of Jordan’s plans. According to Taylor Luck’s December 22, 2008 article in the Jordan Times titled Aqaba site under consideration for Kingdom’s first nuclear power plant the kingdom is actively working on a plan to build a series of plants near Aqaba.
The country energy planners are talking about their first reactor project with most of the established suppliers including Westinghouse, Areva, AECL, AtomEnergoProm (the Russian state owned nuclear supply organization), South Korea, and the various consortia that market the ABWR. The intention is for the first reactor to be built within the next 8 years; because of that aggressive schedule, the selection is being limited to Generation III reactors whose designs are complete or very near complete.
Jordan does not seem to have intentions of just dipping its toes in the water, country leaders are talking about follow on projects to take advantage of the skills that they develop during the first project, about training people in all areas of nuclear energy development, about developing their considerable indigenous uranium resources, and about expanded applications of nuclear power like desalination and canal pumping power. As a fission fan, you have to be intrigued when the head of a national Atomic Energy Commission gives an interview to the press that concludes with the following:
Future developments in the Kingdom’s nuclear programme will allow it to become not only energy independent, but an energy exporter.
“Once Jordan builds its first three or four reactors, it will be in a position to export energy across the region,” he (Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Chairman Khaled Toukan) said.
My guess is that Toukan paid close attention in March 2007 when Jordan received a visit and some advice from the head of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.