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China, Saudi Arabia begin HTGR feasibility study

Saudi Arabia, May 17, 2017

China and Saudi Arabia have held their first meeting to discuss the feasibility of constructing high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) in the Middle Eastern country. The joint working group aims to complete the feasibility study report later this year.

China Nuclear Energy Engineering Group (CNEC) president Jun Gu met with Walid bin Hussein Abu al-Faraj, vice-president of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE), in Beijing on 15 May. During the meeting they reviewed and discussed the terms of the joint feasibility study.

Al-Faraj told Gu he hopes to take this joint feasibility study as the starting point to accelerate full cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China on the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor supply chain and to push through the Saudi HTGR project 'as soon as possible'.

Following the meeting, Gu and al-Faraj co-chaired the first meeting of a joint working group, marking the start of the feasibility study. The three-day meeting was attended by about 40 experts from Saudi Arabia and China, including from Tsinghua University's Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology. During the meeting, discussions were held on the application of the Saudi HTGR project, cooperation in intellectual property and the supply chain, financing of the Saudi project, as well as the country's nuclear regulatory system.

CNEC said China will fully share with Saudi Arabia its experience in developing and constructing high-temperature reactors. It will also assist Saudi Arabia in training personnel for the operation of HTGRs and in supply chain localisation.

They aim to complete the joint feasibility study report and submit it to the Saudi cabinet this year to obtain preliminary approval for the HTGR project.

China and Saudi Arabia signed a cooperation agreement for the joint study in March. The signing of that agreement was witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Arabia's King Salman. It followed the signing in January of a memorandum of understanding between China and Saudi Arabia on the construction of HTGRs.

A demonstration HTR-PM unit under construction at Shidaowan near Weihai city in China's Shandong province. That plant will initially comprise twin HTR-PM reactor modules driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine. Construction started in late 2012 and it is scheduled to start commercial operation later this year.

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