Doha - Qatar, which is struggling to meet its growing demand for electricity and water, is all set to launch a nuclear plant. The country has decided to send experts to attend a crucial meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to be held in Vienna next month to discuss the guidelines for setting up a nuclear plant, top sources told The Peninsula.
Experts from the Supreme Council for Environment and Natural Reserves (SCENR), Qatar Petroleum (QP) and Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) will attend the Vienna meet, which will discuss IAEA's guidelines and procedures for GCC countries to launch nuclear energy stations in the region.
At the meeting, IAEA will explain the rules to be followed while identifying the project sites, appointing consultancies for the projects, and the tender procedures.
The sources, however, refused to give a direct answer to the question on whether a nuclear station for power generation will be set up soon in Qatar. "This is a question to be answered by Kahramaa. But I think almost all the GCC countries, including Qatar, will go for a nuclear power plant," he said.
Ever since the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced its decision, in December 2006, to go for nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, Qatar has been actively involved in the initiative. It hosted the fourth meeting of the GCC Working Group to follow up the IAEA's feasibility report on nuclear power plants.
After the fourth round of discussions held in Qatar early this year, SCENR secretary-general, who chaired the meeting, had told this newspaper that Qatar is 'an ideal place for setting up a nuclear power plant.'
The fact that the UAE has announced its decision to set up a nuclear plant has also added credence to the speculation that Qatar would also go the UAE way.
The latest available data foresees a 17 percent annual growth in the demand for electricity and 11 percent growth in the demand for water during the next five years in Qatar. Also, the market served by Kahramaa is fast changing with very strong growth in the industrial and commercial sectors.
The total demand for electricity, which stood at 3,300 MW in 2006, could see a big leap in the next 10 years. The projected demand by 2015 would be more than 9,180MW. The demand for water is expected to cross 300m gallons a day (MGD) in 2015.
Qatar has been keen to develop alternative energy resources to cope up with this growing demand.
Qatar has already developed the necessary infrastructure to effectively respond to any emergencies arising from the launch of a nuclear plant. The country is equipped with a close-knit 'Early Warning Network System'. The SCENR is also working on a comprehensive law on nuclear application, which is expected to be issued soon.
By Satish Kanady
© The Peninsula 2008
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