Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Too costly to matter: Economics of nuclear power for Saudi Arabia

Publication date: Available online 16 April 2014
Author(s): Ali Ahmad , M.V. Ramana
Saudi Arabia has ambitious plans for nuclear power. Given this context, this paper examines the economics of nuclear power and compares it to two other sources of electricity, natural gas and solar energy. It calculates the costs of electricity generation, water desalination and the opportunity cost associated with forgone oil and gas revenues. A sensitivity analysis is included to account for variations in important parameters within the comparative cost analysis. Our results suggest that for a large range of parameters, the economics of nuclear power are not favorable in comparison with natural gas, even if the currently low domestic natural gas prices in Saudi Arabia were to rise substantially. Further, electricity from solar plants has the potential to be cheaper than nuclear power within the next decade if the rapid decline in solar energy costs in the last decade continue, i.e., before the first planned nuclear power plant would be completed. However, unless the price of oil drops substantially below current values, it would be more economically optimal to export the oil than using it for generating electricity.

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