The reactor technology for Jordan's first nuclear power plant is to be decided in mid-May. Meanwhile, the site selection process for the facility is expected to be completed this month.
Khaled Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) told the country's official news agency Petra that there is "strong competition" between the two preselected reactor vendors.
In April 2012, JAEC announced that it had narrowed down the list of seven offers from four reactor vendors to two from AtomStroyExport of Russia and the Areva-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries joint venture, for their respective AES-92 model VVER-1000 and Atmea designs. Toukan said that the winning bid would be announced in mid-May.
Site selection studies are due to be completed by the end of this month, Toukan said. The sites are under consideration - one near Aqaba on the Red Sea coast, a second at Kherbat Al Samra east of the capital Amman, and the third in the eastern Badia desert. A report on the site studies will be presented to the cabinet. Toukan said that the final decision will be made jointly by the cabinet, the lower house of parliament and the local communities.
The selection of a strategic partner for the nuclear power project will also be made in May, he said. Toukan noted that the final agreement to construct the plant is scheduled to be signed in the second half of this year.
Economic feasibility studies for the nuclear power plant, he said, had found that the cost of electricity generation would be 80 fils (11.3 US cents) per kilowatt at the most. However, this cost would drop once the cost of the plant has been covered and its use in water desalination taken into account.
He said that there were sufficient uranium reserves in central and southern Jordan to meet the demand of the country's nuclear program for 150 years.
Electricity generation currently costs the government some $2 billion per year, according to Toukan. He noted that using a nuclear energy program some 500 tonnes of uranium would be sufficient to meet this demand.
JAEC expects to start building a 750-1100 MWe nuclear power plant in 2013 for operation by 2020 and a second one for operation by 2025. Longer-term, four nuclear reactors are envisaged. Further nuclear projects are likely to involve desalination.