Saudi Arabia's crown prince set in motion seven major energy projects, one of which is to build the kingdom’s first nuclear research reactor, according to the Saudi Press Agency’s report late Monday.
During his visit to King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched key projects for atomic energy, renewable energy, water desalination, genetic medicine and aircraft manufacturing.
Among the launched projects is a nuclear reactor described as a "low-energy research reactor," a solar energy-powered desalination plant in Khafji with a capacity of 60 thousand cubic meters of water per day, and a desalination plant in Yanbu with a capacity for 5.2 thousand cubic meters per day.
The nuclear reactor is likely to draw international attention as the kingdom selects bidders for its first nuclear plant.
According to the World Nuclear Association, Saudi Arabia plans to build two large nuclear power reactors to diversify its energy supply, at a cost of more than $80 billion.
In April 2013, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) aimed to have 17 gigawatts (GWe) of nuclear capacity by 2032 out of a total of 123 GWe. In January 2015, the nuclear target date was moved to 2040 and KA-CARE announced that it was soliciting proposals for 2.9 GWe of nuclear capacity from South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.
With the realization of the nuclear project, the kingdom is set to become the second Gulf Arab state to launch a nuclear power project after the U.A.E.