Jordan may build its first nuclear power plant in Aqaba

By Xinhua,

Amman : A senior Jordanian official has revealed that the Red Sea port city Aqaba may host the country’s first nuclear power plant, which is expected to be built within eight years, daily newspaper The Jordan Times reported Monday.

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“We are currently looking at the region outside of Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority in order to use seawater for cooling requirements,” Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Chairman Khaled Toukan was quoted as saying.

According to Toukan, the commission’s preferred location is within the Aqaba Governorate, some 8 kilometers east of the gulf coast, which has the potential to house four individual power plants.

It will be under study for next 18 months and a tender will be floated this week to invite 10 international firms to carry out site studies to determine the most suitable location for the reactor, said the official.

Toukan revealed that the tender for the construction of the plant is expected to be floated in mid-2010, with initial construction work due to commence in 2012.

Although the tender will be open to a variety of international companies, the commission is looking solely at Generation III reactors, the most advanced nuclear technology with the latest active and passive safety features currently available, he added.

Meanwhile, Toukan said his commission is already going ahead with plans for a second plant, which would potentially be linked to the Red Sea-Dead Sea water conveyance program and its construction could be expected within two to three years after the groundbreaking of the first.

“We are looking at three projects working in tandem, which is water desalination, the Red-Dead canal and electricity generation,” he said, noting that under preliminary plans, the second plant will provide pumping power for the canal in addition to water desalinization for the entire southern region.

Unlike its oil-rich neighbors, Jordan faces grave energy challenges as it lacks conventional energy resources, with scarcity of water.

In a drive to reduce the country’s dependence on imported hydrocarbons, the government mapped out a nuclear energy program last year.