Saudi Arabia plans to award a construction contract for its first nuclear reactors by the end of 2018, a senior government official said on Tuesday.
“With sponsorship from the highest levels in the state, the contract will be signed by the end of 2018,” Maher al Odan, the chief atomic energy officer of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, told a news conference in the capital Riyadh.
Last month the kingdom said it was still undertaking feasibility studies before deciding how and where to build its first nuclear power stations.
Industry sources said the world’s top oil exporter wants to start construction next year on two nuclear power plants with a total electricity generating capacity of up to 2.8 gigawatts, as it follows the UAE in seeking to produce atomic energy.
The nuclear plants are part of long-standing plans to diversify the OPEC member’s energy supply and has received extra momentum as part of its Vision 2030, a sweeping reform programme launched last year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia is considering building 17.6 gigawatts of nuclear-powered electricity generating capacity by 2032, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) says on its website.