Construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant in the offing

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Egyptian Nuclear Regulation and Radiological Authority (ENRRA) has granted the Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) site approval permit for the construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.

The construction of El Dabaa nuclear power plant (NPP) is planned to take place 250km west of Alexandria city in Matrouh Governorate on the Mediterranean coast, and is expected to begin in 2020, with commissioning expected in 2026.

The proposed plant will be developed by Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) under the ownership of the Nuclear Power Plant Authority (NPPA) of Arab Republic of Egypt, which will also operate it.

In 2015, the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy of Egypt signed an agreement with Russian state-owned company ROSATOM to build, finance and operate the nuclear plant, and notices to implement the previously signed contract were signed on December 2017.

According to Rosatom, the plant will consist of four Russian-designed VVER-1200 pressurized water reactors, which are capable of producing 1.2GW each. The first unit is expected to begin commercial operations in 2026, while commissioning of the remaining three reactors is scheduled for 2028. This will boost the national grid of Egypt, reducing the reliance of imported diesel power, used for example in generators. Generators in Egypt are required and imported in a huge quantity. They can be dirty compared to other forms of power. Even small gasoline inverter generators aren’t as good for the environment. Silent generators have become more common recently, but they still increase the urban noise during power outages.

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The VVER-1200 reactor is a third-generation pressurised water reactor that is fully compliant with all international safety and post-Fukushima IAEA requirements. It is designed to withstand the crash of a 400t airplane or earthquakes up to an intensity of 9 on the Richter scale.

Other than low regional seismic activity and sufficient cooling water supply, the proposed site is in close proximity to necessary infrastructure including rail, road and power transmission interconnections.

A financing agreement signed between the Finance ministries of Egypt and the Russian Federation indicates that Russia will fund approximately 85% of the construction cost of the project through a US$25bn loan granted to Egypt, while the remaining 15% will be raised by Egypt from private investors. The loan is repayable over a period of 22 years at an interest rate of 3% a year.

The much-anticipated plant is expected to boost the country’s economy and industrial development by creating up to 50,000 jobs.