Operation of SMART, first Saudi nuclear reactor approaches

Operation of SMART, first Saudi nuclear reactor approaches

The SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor) reactor project is a component of the National Atomic Energy Project, which was approved by the Saudi cabinet in 2017, in an effort to integrate peaceful atomic energy into the national energy mix and contribute to the provision of sustainable national development according to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s SMART Project with South Korea aims to localize nuclear knowledge, support value chains, and enter the Kingdom as a developer, owner, and future source of nuclear energy technologies.

In May 2018, the former energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih visited the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) in Daejeon, South Korea, and met 48 Saudi engineers who had started the joint venture with the institute to prepare engineering designs for the SMART reactor with extensive training programs in various fields of nuclear power, including specialized programs in reactor core design, fluid system design, mechanical design, machine interaction design, and safety analysis of SMART reactor technology.

Operation of SMART, first Saudi nuclear reactor approaches
The former energy minister during his visit to Saudi engineers

The SMART reactor technology is one of the state-of-the-art fourth generation nuclear technologies in reactor fields that is characterized by its versatility in the production of electricity and thermal products, in addition to its high safety standards, ease of manufacture and construction and thus being easy to enter the electrical grid.

Cooperation with Korea in the field of atomic energy falls within the paths of building national human capacity in Saudi Arabia, localizing the industry chain, and transferring technology, noting that the Korea Nuclear Energy Research Institute is the basis on which Korea built its current nuclear potential, and is the primarily responsible for localizing this technique there.

Other reactors in Saudi Arabia

On January 23rd this year, the King Abdullah City for Atomic Energy (KAEC) awarded a contract to determine the location of two sites for the construction of two Saudi nuclear reactors on the Arabian Gulf coast at a cost of $14bn.

Saudi Arabia has asked technology providers from Korea, China, France, Russia and the United States to make their initial offers, and some submissions were made on the presentations made by those states, the city’s president, Khalid Al-Sultan, told a news conference in Riyadh at that time.

Al-Sultan also pointed out that the international prices for the construction of one nuclear reactor amounted to $7bn, revealing that the international tests of nuclear reactors show that the reactor lasts for 100 years, and the construction period ranges between 12 to 15 years.

Press reports, published by Al-arabiya.net in April, confirmed that Saudi Arabia was approaching the operation of its first nuclear reactor.

It was also reported that the facility could be ready within a year, according to Robert Kelly, a former IAEA inspector.