/ 24 February 2009

Algeria to build nuclear power plants from 2020

Algeria aims to build its first commercial nuclear power station around 2020 and would build another every five years after that, Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil said on Tuesday.

He said Algeria had atomic energy agreements with Argentina, China, France and the United States and was also in talks with Russia and South Africa.

”We are very advanced in that area and hope to have many agreements,” Khelil said on Algerian state radio. ”I would say that towards 2020 we will probably have our first reactor and we’ll probably have a reactor every five years after that.”

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries member has plentiful oil and gas reserves but wants to develop other energy sources to free up more hydrocarbons for lucrative export or to make petrochemicals.

Khelil said a law would soon be debated by Parliament for the creation of an atomic safety agency and a company to develop nuclear energy.

Algeria has big uranium deposits and two nuclear research reactors but no uranium enrichment capacity and still needs to train people and select a location away from populated and earthquake-prone areas.

Algeria and China agreed a year ago to cooperate on developing civilian nuclear power and to share training, research and human resources.

Khelil said the government wanted to give a lot more importance to solar energy and was aiming for 15% of Algeria’s electricity to be generated from renewable sources including solar and wind by 2025 to 2030.

Some of the electricity produced could be exported, he said.

It is building a pilot hybrid solar-gas power station in Hassi Rmel in the Sahara that would be able to generate 150MW, of which 35% would be generated by sunlight, he added. — Reuters