There is a gold rush for clean energy technologies all over the world except in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The leaders in the region have a different political agenda than energizing their countries with renewable sources. They are lusting for either cheap coal energy or nuclear energy. The Turkish Ministry of Energy declared that the country’s untapped coal resources will be used to produce energy. We know that the ministry is doing all it can to build a nuclear reactor somewhere near the Aegean Sea. I recently learned that Turkey is not the only MENA country to lust for a reactor. Kalem Journal - Nuclear Energy Insider recently reported that the MENA’s nuclear energy construction sector would experience a boom in the near future, with $300 billion worth of upcoming contracts to be offered to investors.
KEPCO, a Korean energy firm, was the first of a growing number of companies to invest in the MENA. In 2009, KEPCO won a contract to build four nuclear plants in the U.A.E. and has recently announced that it will negotiate a contract with the U.A.E. to build another four plants. Other countries in the region have followed suit like Saudi Arabia’s KA CARE, which remains the most promising project in the region with 16 new nuclear units to be secured. Since 2010, Jordan has been working on a single 1000 MW unit project. The sector’s main actors are expecting the contracts to be made public shortly.
In the meantime Japan is trying to find ways to get rid of all of its nuclear facilities, Germany had already made a pledge and many other countries are following their footsteps. This year’s World Gas Conference is about the role of natural gas in “sustaining future global growth,” which is certainly appropriate. For at no time in the history of the energy industry has natural gas been poised to play a more important role in the global energy picture. Japan is investing heavily to lock in LNG supplies to replace its nuclear generating capacity. Strong demand growth is possible in part because global liquefaction capacity has increased by around 40 percent over the past three years. Peter Voser, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell says that “The natural gas revolution offers the best, most promising opportunity we have today to make substantial, immediate progress toward a more sustainable energy supply. Gas is the fuel for development. Its supply is diverse, secure and abundant.”
It is easy to understand that Turkey is trying to reduce its dependence on foreign countries in energy production. One of the greatest reasons that Turkey is wrestling with the trade deficit is imported energy resources. However the government has the responsibility to create a more sustainable future as well as creating results for the short term.
The lure of nuclear power is too great for ambitious politicians, but I believe that in countries where there is a strong network of NGOs like Turkey, the authorities will have to think thrice before deciding to go down the nuclear or the coal path.