As Amman considers vendors for the country’s first nuclear power plant, energy officials are setting their sights on the Kingdom’s second reactor.
According to Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khaled Toukan, officials are preparing plans for a second reactor as part of a long-term vision for four nuclear reactors within the next quarter-century that will provide Jordan with 60 per cent of its electricity needs.
The construction of the additional reactor, expected to take place within three years of the first, aims to meet an expected rise in electricity demand, estimated to reach 5,000 megawatts (MW) by 2020.
It is believed that atomic energy officials in Amman prefer the vendor that will be chosen to build the first nuclear reactor to carry out construction on the second, although the tender for the second project will be open to international firms.
The country’s first reactor is slated to be built within the next decade in Balaama/Majdal area, some 70 kilometres northeast of Amman.
Jordan is currently vetting bids from three shortlisted firms - Canada’s AECL, Russian Atomstroyexport and a joint venture between French firm AREVA and Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries - for the construction of the 1,000MW Generation III reactor.
Energy officials in Amman have prioritised nuclear power as key to weaning the country off energy imports, which cost Jordan one-fifth of its gross domestic product in 2010.
Jordan’s nuclear programme has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks by local environmental activists and concerned residents in the Balaama area.
In addition to environmental concerns, activists point to lack of water - the Kingdom’s first nuclear reactor is to be cooled by the Khirbet Al Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant - and construction costs as grounds to freeze the programme.
Jordanian officials point to stable electricity prices and zero carbon emissions when highlighting the advantages of nuclear power.