Expert: Middle East needs nuclear energy

Lister Petter chairman says renewables cannot meet future demand

Nuclear will soon be part of the UAE's energy mix (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images).
Nuclear will soon be part of the UAE's energy mix (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images).

Growth in renewable energy production is insufficient to meet the Middle East’s growing electricity demand, with nuclear energy the only realistic long-term option, according to Lister Petter group chairman Dr Robert Hawley.

Lister Petter is a supplier of diesel and gas engines, generating sets and pumps.

Renewable energy accounts for 4% of total power generation in the region at present, which is expected to increase marginally to 5% by 2030.

“Compared to the region’s growing electricity needs, this is a small amount. Only nuclear energy can provide the quantity of power that is required,” said Dr Hawley, speaking yesterday at the Middle East Electricity exhibition.

“Electricity is a vital ingredient of a sustainable society in terms of transportation and heating and cooling, for example. Global electricity demand is expected to double by 2030 to over 33 000 Terawatt hours, with the global population expected to reach nine billion by 2015.

“The most dramatic growth will be in the developing regions of China, India, Russia and the Middle East, where there will be a subsequent struggle to meet the demand for installed capacity, due to rapid urbanisation and the rising aspirations and increasing consumerism of its relatively young populations.”

Dr Hawley said the only realistic options to meet this demand were to expand renewable energy sources, increase the efficiency of the existing generation and transmission network, carbon capture and storage, carbon offset permits, electricity rationing or nuclear power.

Nuclear power stands to play a major role as part of a sustainable future energy mix. “Ideally there has got be a mix of major power stations and smaller generation capacity, which is ideal for water heating, for example. But solar power cannot meet the electricity needs of major industries, and hence the need for a mix of sources,” Dr Hawley said.

There is likely to be a global increase in nuclear power generation as security of energy supplies remains high on the political agenda. “Uranium can be sourced from stable countries like Canada and Australia. It is also one of the most plentiful natural resources available, with the only major issue being its extraction.”

Dr Hawley said that the Middle East could also turn to large-scale nuclear energy so it could conserve its oil reserves as a valuable export commodity, instead of consuming these locally. “The Middle East’s recent decision to implement a nuclear programme, with a South Korean consortium awarded the contract to build four reactors, is therefore the most pragmatic and ultimately sustainable approach,” he concluded.

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