GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Nuclear Energy for the Gulf after Oil Price Downturn: End of a Fashion?
Paper Proposal Text :
GCC countries have been spending much effort to transform their fossil fuel dependent structure not only in the economic sense but also in terms of energy. Electricity generation remains as the key field where diversification of energy sources can be realized most effectively. In this vein, the use of nuclear energy in the Gulf Region has been discussed a lot and even some serious steps have been taken as in the case of the UAE. However, how much nuclear energy can replace oil and gas in the Gulf is still disputable, especially after the oil price crash. Despite nuclear power plants\' (NPP) obvious supremacy for environment and technological advancement, short term economic advantages of oil and gas use due to their abundance in the region as well as NPPs\' high fixed costs make the desired transformation of energy mix even more difficult for the case of nuclear energy. Discussing these facts in detail, this paper evaluates the current or aimed nuclear programs of the GCC members where there is any mainly as a dependent variable of oil prices. The direct effect of oil price on nuclear programs is caused by oil price’s being the key determinant of opportunity cost of nuclear energy in the Gulf. On the other hand, oil price is the main pillar of capital accumulation in the Gulf and hence, it turns to be an indirect determinant in terms of financing investments. The paper also elaborates other important factors for enhancement of nuclear in the region such as role of the state and state owned companies, construction and operation models (build-own-operate, build-operate-transfer, and so on) and financing methods of NPPs, natural limits (landscape, demand restrictions etc.) to dissemination of the use of nuclear energy, and the new global wave in the nuclear sector. Taking the relevant variables, like levelized cost of electricity by sources or cost of carbon emissions, in to account, the paper argues that among all the others, oil price still remains as a key determinant and a long run price level below 50 dollars threatens the future of nuclear in the Gulf.