There has been a lot of fuss about Jordan’s nuclear ambitions and activists in the kingdom have been vocal about their opposition, but all this hullabaloo might be for nought according to an industry expert.
Speaking with The Jordan Times, Steve Thomas from Greenwich University said that high construction costs, complicated regulatory requirements and the expensive water infrastructure required to maintain nuclear reactors within the context of an already burdened economy are more than likely to doom the plans before they lift off.
“If you look globally, reactor projects are coming in past deadline and over budget across the board,” Thomas, an energy policy researcher, told The Jordan Times.
He added that Jordan simply can’t afford the technology, which costs in the region of $7,000 per kilowatt hour to construct.
Jordan had been working with AREVA from France and Russia’s AtomStory Export to explore the possibility of building four nuclear reactors in remote areas of the kingdom. The AREVA reactor hasn’t been licensed yet, a process that could take as long as six years, while Russia’s reactor model hasn’t been commissioned, according to Thomas.
AREVA is no longer in the picture, however, as Jordan terminated its uranium licensing agreement with the firm over a contractual dispute.
Plus, 25 million cubic feet of water is required to keep each reactor cool. Not only is the infrastructure necessary to transport this water to the desert costly, but water is already a dangerously scarce commodity in Jordan.
“Jordan has one of the lowest levels of water resource availability, per capita, in the world,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Water scarcity will become an even greater problem over the next two decades as the population doubles and climate change potentially makes precipitation more uncertain and variable, particularly in this region.”
The kingdom is already extracting water from non-renewable fossilized deep-water aquifers just to meet its present need, which is growing alongside population. Adding water-costly nuclear to the mix would stress an already broken water supply.
All these factors, according to Thomas, are unlikely to attract investors. Nuclear energy in Jordan is simply too risky, and stands “little chance of success.”
Image of radiation symbol painted on a wall, Shutterstock