The director of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Khaled Touqan, said, looking forward to the next 10 years, JAEC is considering small reactors. It is looking at various possibilities including designs from Russia, Korea, France, and the UK, trying to determine the optimal technical specifications and how to adapt such reactors to the Jordanian environment, Touqan explained. He noted the potential use of small nuclear reactors for water desalination as well as power production.
In an interview with Russia’s Sputnik, he said: “We have done all the studies. The infrastructure is in place, and studies on site selection and the provision of cooling water are in place. Now we are comparing technologies and we want to get the go-ahead from the government. There is a problem of providing water for cooling and a financing problem, and we are studying these details with all well-known companies, including the Russian ones, in order to choose the best model in Jordanian conditions.”
Touqan said had been decided to use small reactors for water desalination and electricity generation, adding that the use of a floating NPP in Aqaba is being considered, but that may raise concerns among neighbouring countries. He ruled out the possibility that Jordan would be ready to construct a large reactor within the next 10 years, and that the choice of small reactors was justified because of potential water shortages.
Russia and Jordan agreed in 2015 on two atomic reactors with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each, but in 2018 it was announced that Jordan had abandoned the project. In the same period, the two countries signed an agreement to develop a project to build a low-energy nuclear power unit (about 200 megawatts) in Jordan.
Jordan had intended to have two 1000 MWe nuclear units in operation by 2025 but has now cancelled such plans. However, it had signed multiple nuclear cooperation agreements. The Committee for Nuclear Strategy, set up in 2007, had planned for nuclear power to provide 30% of electricity by 2030, and to provide for exports. In 2008 JAEC investigated plant technologies including AECL’s Candu-6, the Areva-Mitsubishi Atmea 1 and a KHNP design.
In 2009 JAEC contracted Tractabel Engineering for a siting study at Al Amra in Al Mafraq province and signed WorleyParsons for the pre-construction phase of a two-unit plant. In 2013 JAEC decided on two AES-92 units on a build-own-operate basis with Rosatom Overseas. However, in 2018 the project was cancelled on the grounds of cost in favour of small modular reactors, and a new agreement was signed with Rosatom Overseas. A MOU was also signed with Rolls-Royce for an SMR feasibility study, and another with X-energy on its 76MWe Xe-100 HTGR. Talks were held with CNNC in 2018 on the possible construction of a 220MWe HTR-PM reactor for operation from 2025, and in 2019 an agreement was signed with US NuScale.
Jordan has an operating research reactor. In 2009 JAEC selected a consortium headed by the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute with Daewoo to build the 5 MWt Jordan Research & Training Reactor at the Jordan University for Science & Technology at Al Ramtha. The reactor, similar to South Korea's 30 MW Hanaro reactor, uses 19% enriched fuel and has the potential to be upgraded to 10 MWt. First criticality was in April 2016 and the reactor was commissioned in December.