Several news sources – Jordan has been working recently to explore options for using nuclear energy as an alternative to long-term electric power generation and water desalination, and is working to ensure security of energy supplies and protect the economy from the vagaries in oil and gas markets.

In 2007, Jordan has imported more than 96% of its energy at a cost of $ 3.2 billion. This is a huge figure for a country with limited resources such as Jordan.

The rising demand for electricity has lifted the value of oil imports, where electricity demands rose in 2008 to 2100 MW, while experts predict a rise to 4743 MW in 2020.

On the other hand, the need to provide new resources of water is increasing in a country being one of the five poorest countries of water, through water desalination projects that require large amounts of energy. A nuclear energy program has been initiated to establish a nuclear power plant.

Addition to generating electric power and water desalination, nuclear energy program will bring several benefits to Jordan’s economy such as using available Uranium resources and creating new job opportunities.

Jordan’s nuclear program consists of two projects. The first one is establishing a nuclear power plant to generate electric power and water desalination. The second project is the exploitation of natural nuclear resources in Jordan, especially Uranium. The program includes building a small size nuclear research reactor with a capacity of 5 to 10 megawatts. It also includes a long-term nuclear program to build four nuclear reactors for peaceful energy during the next two decades, which will not only generate Jordan’s needs of electric power, but also will enable Jordan to export it to neighboring countries.

The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission selected the year 2018 to be the start date of operation for the first nuclear plant, able to generate 1000MW of electricity. It is expected that building the first nuclear plant will start in the year 2013.

Initially, the site location is selected to be 25km south of city of Aqaba and 15km east of the southern sea coast.

The Nuclear research reactor will be built at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. This reactor will be used to train a new generation of scientists and nuclear engineers and to provide support to several services such as medical, health, agricultural and industrial services.

The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission has signed several agreements with different consortiums and firms. In Sept. 2009, an agreement was signed between the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission and the Belgium-based company Tractabel Engineering (GDF-SUEZ), leading a coalition of two other companies, Jordan’s Arab Consultants Bureau and France’s Bureau Veritas. Under the two-year study, specialized tests will be carried out to assess the geological stability, geophysics, soil characteristics and risk management of the proposed location of the 750-1,100 megawatt plant some 25km south of Aqaba and about 15km inland. “Our company will use its extensive experience and vast international resources to locate the best site possible for the proposed nuclear power plant,” Tractabel Engineering CEO Georges Cornet. The study will pave the way for two important reports assessing the proposed plant’s environmental and safety impacts.

In Nov. 2009, another agreement was signed between the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission and the Australian firm WorleyParsons. The agreement covers the pre-construction preparations for the nuclear reactor. The Sydney-based firm will spend two years conducting an economic feasibility study and technology selection for the nuclear power plant. In its technology selection and financial feasibility studies, WorleyParsons will work in parallel with the Belgium firm Tractabel. The Australian consultants will also include management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, environmental protection issues, comprehensive financing and nuclear security.

In Dec. 2009, The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission announced the selection of a South Korean consortium to build the Kingdom’s first small-scale nuclear reactor. A consortium of the Korea Atomic Energy Institute (KAERI) and Daewoo Engineering and Construction won the bid for the nuclear research reactor, a five-megawatt (MW) structure to be built at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. JAEC and the consortium will officially sign the agreement for the construction of the reactor in March / April 2010. In Feb. 2010, during the French Prime Minister visit to Jordan, an agreement was signed making way for uranium mining in the Kingdom by the French company Areva, adding that the two sides also reviewed the company’s offers to build a nuclear reactor in Jordan. This cooperation, which also includes establishing a centre of excellence to train Jordanian engineers and technicians in nuclear energy, will contribute in building a full partnership between Jordan and France in the field of nuclear technology.

Discoveries have shown in the past few years that Jordan has wealth Uranium reserves in different areas in the country. Estimates indicate that there are about 65 thousand tons of Uranium reserves in central Jordan, in addition to other amounts in different areas. It is expected that the rate of production of Uranium from mines in the region of Central Jordan is about 2000 tons annually, while limited part of it will be used in Jordan’s nuclear reactors, while the rest will be exported, as an important economic income for the Kingdom. French company Areva will explore and extract these resources.

This Jordanian nuclear energy program is part of the Jordanian renewable energy program. Jordan has also started to build wind farms in different locations in Jordan to generate electric power, aiming to increase its dependency on alternative green energy.