Saudi Arabia is on the road to developing nuclear power.
The kingdom's cabinet of ministers officially approved the establishment of a national program for atomic energy this week. A number of initiatives are included in the plan, which was presented to the cabinet by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Dr. Hashem bin Abdullah Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, hailed the decision as an important step for the kingdom to make national gains toward the peaceful use of nuclear power, according to Arab News.
While Riyadh's nuclear ambitions are not new, the cabinet's decision marks a significant step in moving towards the kingdom's renewable and atomic energy goals.
According to the World Nuclear Association, the kingdom aims to build 16 nuclear power plants over the next 25 years, at a cost of $80 billion. By 2040, nuclear power will produce 17 GWe of power, equaling 15 percent of the nation's projected needs.
Saudi Arabia and the other five Gulf Cooperation Countries began studying how to use nuclear energy in a peaceful manner back in 2006. So far, the UAE has been the member state to make the most significant gains in implementing the renewable energy technology.
In January, the UAE announced that construction on its first nuclear power plant would be completed this year. However, in May, the nation announced that while the plant had been completed, it would not become operational until next year. If all goes as planned, this will make the UAE the Arab world’s first nuclear power producing country.
Across the Arab world, countries are increasingly turning to renewable energy sources. Saudi Arabia has begun implementing solar and wind power technology, diversifying its energy sector away from oil. Similarly, the UAE is on track to exceed its conservative target of producing 24 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2021.