Bahrain and other Arab countries should invest in renewable energies rather than nuclear power, a top science professor said. The Arab world has the potential to establish itself as a leader in renewable energies and already has experts and research centres in this field, said Bahrain University planning and development vice-president Professor Dr. Waheeb Alnaser.
On the other hand, the Middle East lacks the legislation, research centres, academics and companies needed for nuclear power and does not have expertise to manage nuclear accidents. "The number of nuclear power technologists and academics in the Arab world does not exceed 400, while the number in renewable energy may reach 2,000," said Prof Alnaser. "The number of papers in the field of nuclear physics and engineering in the Arab world do not exceed 1,000, while in renewable energy it may exceed 5,000. The number of journals in renewable energy is probably 20 times that of nuclear energy. "Nuclear research centres are very limited in the Arab world and an advanced one may not even exist.
There are nearly 300 worldwide but only four in the Arab world." Prof Alnaser said compared to renewable energy, nuclear power was risky because accidents often occurred and could affect the entire world. He said there was a concern that nuclear accidents in the Arab world would not be explained transparently and this could put the entire globe in danger. "In case of an accident, nuclear will be a major health issue worldwide, while renewable energy is not," said the expert. "Accidents do occur frequently in nuclear plants but not all are serious and are handled well in technologically advanced countries. But they may not be in Arab countries, where they are largely perceivable to tweets and rumours. "There is a lack of advanced facilities to analyse and mitigate a nuclear accident. This is important, while it may be not necessary for renewable energy.
The question is: Will Arab countries provide all transparent data and analysis promptly in case of an accident in a nuclear power station?" Prof Alnaser said unlike renewable energies, nuclear power was unsustainable and had a high investment cost. He said another disadvantage of nuclear power was that it will take up to 19 years to set up a plant, compared to two to five years for solar energy. "Arab countries can be producers for renewable energy components, unlike nuclear," he added.
"Renewable energy is cheaper than nuclear energy for Arab countries and the need for energy storage is solved for renewable energy which makes it more attractive than nuclear technology in Arab countries." Prof Alnaser was the keynote speaker at the first Green Technology Expo and Forum, taking place at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre.