The most populous country in the MENA region with a population of 97.5 million, Egypt population is growing fast and with it the energy needs. Egypt’s energy mix is constituted mainly from Natural Gas (72%), Oil (20%), Hydro (7%), and only 1% from renewables in 2017. Nevertheless, in 2008 the government set a target to reach 20% from renewable by 2020 including hydropower as well. The total electricity production is about 172 TWh with 100% access to electricity. Egypt has seen lately a high level of urbanization and industrialization accompanied by an improvement in the standard of living. In addition to the country commitment to reduce its greenhouse emissions.
Nuclear energy has been perceived by the Egyptian government as a solution. So, between 1999 and 2001, Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) has performed with the assistance of IAEA a pre-feasibility study for an NPP. Egypt was ambitioning for the construction of an NPP in the 70’s, however, after the Chernobyl incident, the project was halted till 2007 when the Mubarak’s government restarted nuclear projects.
The Egyptian project is the most developed so far in Africa excluding the already existing South African NPP. ROSATOM will take charge of the construction, training, fuel, and maintenance of the new power plant in El-Dabaa (west of Alexandria). The plant will consist of 4 reactors with a capacity of 1,200 MW each. The estimated cost is about $30 Billion. Egypt secured a loan from Russia worth $25 billion which would finance 85% of the value of each work contract, services and equipment shipping. It will be paid over 22 years at 3% rate, however, Egypt will start paying the loan after the first reactor will begin working. The nuclear power plant will have a total capacity of 4.8GW, this plant is expected to account for up to 50 % of Egypt’s power, powering up 4 million homes and is expected to create 50,000 jobs.
In March 2019, El Dabaa has received site approval permit which is the first major milestone in the licensing process of the power plant. The authorization confirms that the location and its characteristics comply with the Egyptian requirements and IAEA requirements, which is reflected in ensuring the safe and reliable operation of nuclear facilities.
“Issuance of the Site Approval Permit is an acknowledgment that the El Dabaa site and its specific conditions comply with national and IAEA requirements for NPP sites” NPPA stated
International firms are taking advantage of the Egyptian nuclear ambition, For instance, GE has won a contract to supply turbine island equipment and services to El-Dabaa plant while ROSATOM will supply four nuclear turbines, the basic design of four conventional islands, supply four nuclear turbine generator sets, including the Arabelle half-speed steam turbines, as well as provide technical expertise for the on-site installation and commissioning. On the other hand, Assystem will assist ROSATOM’s subsidiary to obtain the necessary licenses and permits in order to build the NPP.
Anna Melikovich, director of tenders and suppliers at Rosatom, explained that launching the tenders for the project will be conducted through a programme implemented in four phases, which is known as ‘the integrated bidding programme’, stressing that there are permits for the purchase of equipment for nuclear safety to reflect the supplier’s seriousness. The first tender to protect the site of NPP from groundwater has already been launched. The assigned company handles executing the technical studies and necessary designs to protect the site, as well as the site’s infrastructure work to protect it from the water.
According to Gregory Sosnin, vice president of Atomstroyexport “Atomstroyexport are holding meetings and examining potential companies involved in the construction of the nuclear plant at Dabaa”. Also, the Egyptian Industry Localisation Committee approved 183 companies to participate in the project. Atomstroyexport is currently. At the moment, Atomstroyexport is reviewing the files of all companies.
Apart from Russia, Egypt has agreements with South Korea and China. In 2015, Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) signed an agreement to enhance nuclear cooperation and to “become an official partner” in the country’s nuclear project.
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Author: Ibrahim Ababou. Global Account Manager – Nuclear, Project Manager – Africa Nuclear Business Platform.