Large Nuclear Reactorsمشاركة |

Large nuclear reactors are reactors with an electric capacity of between 1,000 and 1600 MW per reactor; thus, it contributes in supporting the basic load in the electrical grid throughout the year. It has a high capacity to produce electricity sustainably at a low cost. That is the reason why Saudi Arabia aims to introduce this type to the energy mix.

Large nuclear reactors are divided into three main types:

  • Light-Water Reactor.
  • Heavy-Water Reactor
  • •Boiling-Water Reactor

Saudi Arabia has adopted Light-Water Reactors as an ideal choice as electric power generators for several reasons; the most important would be the feasibility and efficiency of clean energy production and the simplicity of its maintenance. Which confirms why 291 such reactors have been built around the world so far compared to the other types of reactors that have not exceeded the combined number of 127 reactors.

These large reactors have enormous capacity to produce electricity. One reactor would produce around 1,000-1,600 megawatts, so nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia will generate electricity at a rate of 5% of the Kingdom's electricity demands. Given the need of these types of nuclear reactors for cooling, they will require to be built on the coasts.

Large nuclear reactors components includes the design and construction of the first atomic power plant site in Saudi Arabia, and the processing of its infrastructure. As well as the study of nuclear reactor technology and the preliminary technical study of engineering designs to select the most appropriate technology to build the first nuclear reactor. In addition to the establishment of an independent legal entity to follow up and realize the commercial interests of the Saudi National Atomic Energy Project under the name of the Nuclear Holding Company. Below are the details on the components of large nuclear reactors.


1.1 Selecting and configuring sites to build the first nuclear power plant in Saudi Arabia

Selecting and configuring sites is one of the most important first steps to build nuclear power plants. Determining a suitable location for the construction of a nuclear reactor is based on technical standards that are internationally recognized and derived from international expertise and guidance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

As part of K.A.CARE's efforts to develop Saudi Arabia's energy program, since its establishment in 2011/2012 it gave a loud attention of conducting scientific and specialized technical studies to determine the areas of potential locations for the construction of nuclear power plants to generate electricity. K.A.CRE is keen to ensure that these studies are based on a methodology approved and compatible with the latest standards derived from the guidance and recommendations of the credible international regulators led by the IAEA and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

According to these criteria, the locations selection methodology is carried out in stages that are gradual, with further studies of the different technical characteristics of each location, in order to nominate the best for the construction of the nuclear power plant. Specifically, K.A.CARE has adopted the methodology of conducting site studies in three stages:

First, mapping, reviewing and examining sites. Second, classifying and selecting sites. Third, site evaluation through field technical characteristics study, as described in the following diagram:


In this context, K.A.CARE has completed the first and second stages. In the first stage, a comprehensive mapping of all Saudi Arabia's lands was conducted in order to identify the potential areas that are initially feasible for the construction of reactors by applying the exclusion criteria. First, is to exclude areas that are technically unsuitable in terms of safety and security of the nuclear reactors. Then apply the preference criteria on the remaining regional areas to determine the potential areas for further study at subsequent stages.

Of those marked regional areas, sixteen were identified for potential locations to apply the second and third stages. Then the selection and review stage of the potential sites in those specific areas has been documented, and seventeen potential locations in potential areas were marked.

The sites can be classified regionally, 9 potential sites located near the Red Sea coast, 6 potential sites located on the Arabian Gulf, and 2 sites located in the inland areas of Saudi Arabia. All these potential sites have been characterized in the preliminary plans of its development based on the review of specialized publications in this field, analysis of maps and site visits. Moreover, based on these data and information, the second stage of the site studies was carried out where K.A.CARE has conducted a comparative study between the sites and their compatibility to 22 different technical criteria.

On the basis of the second stage, potential sites were examined and selected according to the general compatibility with these criteria, and the suitability with the specific relevance criteria matrices. Based on the preliminary observations and subsequent technical evaluations, none of the potential sites were excluded; all 17 potential sites were found to have the characteristics of sites considered suitable for the establishment of nuclear power plants. However, by applying preferential criteria, these sites were arranged according to preference, thus selecting six sites to choose from for the third stage.

According to this standard methodology, the third stage of site studies should be carried out on one or more of the nominated sites, including detailed on-site technical measurements and inspections. These characteristics and studies are necessary on several aspects, In one aspect, this stage confirms the actual site suitability to the construction of the power plant with accordance to the safety and security requirements based on the data and measurements collected from within the site and not through the general open sources, which usually are not precise or accurate enough. On another aspect, the data and information of this stage are necessary to meet the regulatory and licensing requirements of the regulator authorized to establish the power plant. Finally, these data are necessary to complete the detailed geometrical design of the power plant, which is greatly in line with the process of preparing supply contracts and offers for the power plant.

All this requires the study of the technical characteristics of selected sites to provide the necessary information before embarking on the final and detailed design of the power plant and the beginning of its construction.

K.A.CARE has completed the first and second stage in 2013, and is currently working on the third and final stage of the process of selecting and configuring the locations of nuclear power plants.

In 2017, the Royal Decree issued two locations on the Arabian Gulf coast to conduct the third stage of sites studies, one of which is a primary site as a preferred location and the other as an alternative site in case of invalidity of the first site caused by lack of composition and specification of the soil layers. K.A.CARE has started to conduct the Site Characterization study, which includes several technical subsidiary studies, each one relates to certain technical aspect of the sites characteristics.

K.A.CARE has commissioned a specialized international consulting company to implement the technical and engineering characteristics study project on the two sites that are nominated for the power plant. In addition to the site characteristics reports, the project outputs include the site assessment report, the preliminary safety analysis report, and the environmental impact report for the Nuclear and Radiation Control Authority to rely on in the issuance of the construction license. Project outputs also include site-specific engineering information for use in the engineering design. It is expected that the detailed study of the site characteristics and selection of the favorable location for the construction of the reactor to be completed by 2020.


1.2 Front-End Engineering Design Technical Study (FEED)

Front-End Engineering Design technical study (FEED) is a detailed technical study of nuclear power plants entry to Saudi Arabia. Through that study, technology suppliers whom are  (Russia, America, France, South Korea and China) are contacted to provide integrated data on the technologies available, and offer the Supplier's reference Design that suits the climatic and environmental conditions of Saudi Arabia. As well as to meet the legislative requirements and systems adopted by the Nuclear and Radiation Control Authority in order to achieve the highest levels of nuclear safety and security.


These preliminary studies' aim is to achieve the following objectives:

  • To contribute in the entry of reliable and credible nuclear energy technology to Saudi Arabia's energy mix.
  • Identify and select the best techniques to build the first nuclear power plant in Saudi Arabia while achieving the highest levels of nuclear safety and economic benefits.
  • Meet the requirements of the Nuclear and Radiation Control Authority and the electrical grid based on the designs and operational specifications of the best international practices.


K.A.CARE undertook the preliminary technical study of the engineering designs in 2017 and 2018 in order to prepare for the construction of the large nuclear power plant. Work is under way in preparing a detailed construction plan, developing the appropriate evaluation mechanism and selecting the technical supplier.

The main objective of this study is to reduce risks related to the nuclear reactors project by developing suppliers' designs based on nuclear regulations, location data and preparations for the implementation of the project.


1 .3 Nuclear Holding Company

K.A.CARE works to establish a nuclear holding company to be an independent legal entity to follow up and realize the commercial interests of the Saudi National Atomic Energy Project by participating and investing nationally and internationally in projects and assets of economic feasibility. In addition to the development, ownership and operation of nuclear assets for the electric power production, desalinated water and thermal energy through subsidiaries or joint ventures. The company will represent an important component in the indigenization of technology and building the human capacity in the nuclear industry, and the promotion of local content according to performance indicators and standards determined by K.A.CARE. The company's objectives include, for example and not limited to:

  • Act as an independent legal entity to conduct business and commerce activities on the Saudi National Atomic Energy Project.
  • Building a financing facility to obtain the required funds for the project.
  • Work as a strategic partner with private investors and technology suppliers targeted at the Saudi National Atomic Energy Project.​