The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission is in “advanced” talks with China National Nuclear Corp. to build the kingdom’s first nuclear reactor at a cost of $1 billion, according to the chairman of the Middle Eastern government agency.
An agreement on the proposed 220-megawatt reactor is planned to be signed next year, with operations to start in 2025, Chairman Khaled Toukan said Wednesday in an interview. Local banks have expressed interest to finance the plant, which will use helium for cooling, he said.
“This reactor is very efficient for electric power generation and can be used for water desalination and to process heat and can serve chemical industries as well as oil refineries,” Toukan said from his office in Amman. The commission was established in 2008 to develop and promote nuclear energy in the country.
Jordan is focusing on building nuclear, solar and wind plants because it lacks the oil and gas reserves of its neighbors and has to import most of its energy. It’s also one of the most water-stressed nations in the world, so a steady supply of renewables will help ease the cost of pumping water, which takes up about 15 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product each year.
The influx of at least 1.4 million refugees from neighboring Syria has further strained Jordan’s infrastructure.