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The Saudis, Poyry, and The Think Tank Principle

riyadh-4-large We’re not entirely sure how to feel about this:

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia may mine and enrich uranium to fuel power plants if it embarks on a civilian nuclear energy program, a consultant preparing a draft nuclear strategy for the kingdom said on Wednesday.

Of course, that “may mine and enrich” sounds a lot like a trial balloon to see how others react. And, as writer Amena Bakr points out, neighbor UAE avoided the issue altogether:

Saudi neighbor the United Arab Emirates became the first country in the Gulf Arab region to embark upon a nuclear power generation program last year. But the UAE decided from an early stage to import fuel for the plants, as it sought to reassure the international community it had no military intentions with its program.

So we expect the Saudis may want to evade similar issues. However:

"Nuclear energy in Saudi is really a long term strategy that can span 10-20 years from now, while renewable energy can be deployed much faster," Elkuch told Reuters.

So there’s that.

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Elkuch is Philipp Elkuch, president of the nuclear energy business group at Poyry. We have to admit ignorance as to what Poyry is but a quick trip over to its Web site shows it to be an engineering consultant, largely Europe based. The nuclear page says that it will do just about anything from helping you find a site for your shiny new nuclear plant to decommissioning it when the time comes.

We’ve nothing at all to say about Poyry except There it is.

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Adding to David’s account below of the EPA analysis of the American Power Act, the International Energy Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development decide to use their own crystal ball on the year 2050:

Roughly a quarter of global electricity could be generated by nuclear power by 2050, requiring a tripling in nuclear generating capacity but making a major contribution to reduced CO2 emissions, a report said Wednesday.

Boy, is that true or what? If you make that a half of global electricity generation, nuclear will really make a major contribution to reduced CO2 emissions.

We’ll take a closer look at the report – these aren’t fly-by-night operations - but nothing in the AFP story about it suggests it would be very edifying. After all, anyone can say anything and as long as it’s vaguely on point, voila, a report. Call it the Think Tank Principle. But we think the vapidity here is down to AFP, not the report.

Riyadh at night. In case you wonder why they might want to up their electric capacity.

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