Will Iraq’s $ 40 billion nuclear power bet solve its energy crisis?
Iraq is developing a $ 40 billion plan to build nuclear reactors as OPEC’s second-largest producer seeks to end continual blackouts amid power shortages, said Kamal Hussain Latif, Chairman of the Iraqi Radioactive Sources Regulatory Authority. Bloomberg in an interview.
Iraq has suffered from electricity shortages since 2003, and these have led in recent years to protests where people have tried to enter the oil fields to demand an end to the blackouts. Demand for electricity is currently exceeding supply and the gap is expected to widen further as demand increases if Iraq fails to resolve its electricity problem.
Iraq even imports electricity and natural gas for power from neighboring Iran, for which it has received US waivers to deal with the Iranian energy sector even under US sanctions against Tehran.
Expecting demand to continue growing, Iraq is now considering building eight nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 11 gigawatts (GW) this decade, Latif told Bloomberg.
Iraq has held talks with Russian Rosatom and Korean Kepco on possible cooperation.
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Earlier this year, Latif told the Iraqi News Agency (INA) that the country was in talks with Russia, France and the United States over the potential construction of three nuclear reactors.
“We have several forecasts which show that without nuclear power by 2030, we will have big problems,” Latif told Bloomberg this week.
Iraq also plans to build solar farms that would provide around 11 GW of electricity by the end of the 2020s.
The first contract for a nuclear power plant could be signed within the next year, Latif told Bloomberg.
Currently, only the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has an operating nuclear power plant in the Arab world, after Unit 1 at the Barakah nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi started up last summer.
By Michael Kern for Oil Octobers
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