Egypt parliament approves bill speeding completion of El-Dabaa nuclear plant

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 2 May 2023

Egypt's parliament – the House of Representatives – finally approved on Tuesday government-drafted amendments to the 1976 law regulating the performance of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA).

Egypt s Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker, and managers of NPPA and Rosato
Egypt s Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker, and managers of NPPA and Rosatom give a green light to the pouring of El-Dabaa NPP s first concrete for Unit 1 in July 2022. (Photo courtesy of Nuclear Power Plants Authority)


"The legislation would give tax breaks to Egyptian and foreign contractors alike," said the NPPA's Chairman Amgad El-Wakeel.

He indicated that "While the NPPA resorted to foreign contractors – eg South Korean contractors to construct facilities at El-Dabaa's four-reactor Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) as well as turbine buildings – the authority will also use the legislation to open the door for local contractors to win contracts for the construction of El-Dabaa and other nuclear power projects."

"El-Dabaa's NPP is now proceeding according to schedule after some delays due to COVID-19. The new legislation comes to speed up the implementation of the project by giving the NPPA greater powers and flexibility to remove all obstacles standing in the way of implementing this project as well as granting incentives to foreign and local contractors alike," said El-Wakeel.

El-Wakeel indicated last month that Egypt and Russia are speeding up the construction of the 4.8 GW NPP at El-Dabaa, which is located 135 kilometres west of Alexandria, putting it back on schedule after initial delays due to the war in Ukraine and COVID-19.

"El-Dabaa project is now moving ahead at full speed in accordance with timetables and without further delays," said El-Wakeel. 

The actual construction work on the plant, which is scheduled to conclude by the year 2030, kicked off in July 2022. A month earlier, Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) – contracted in 2015 to build the plant and provide it with fuel – started the production of electrical components for a reactor vessel of the plant at a production site in Saint Petersburg.

"The Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Rosatom will lay the first concrete foundation for the plant's third nuclear reactor in May – and the move will come after the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Authority (ENRRA) grants the necessary construction permit for the reactor and successfully lays the concrete foundation for the plant's first and second reactor last year," said El-Wakeel.

A delegation from Russia's Atomstroyexport Company (the Engineering Division of Rosatom) led by general director Alexander Lokshin paid a visit to the El-Dabaa project two weeks ago to review the final preparations for the first work on the plant's third nuclear reactor. 

El-Dabaa is Egypt's first-ever NPP and is designed to generate energy for peaceful purposes in collaboration with Russia's nuclear engineering company Rosatom which will build four nuclear reactors with a capacity of 1.2 GW each.

"The legislation comes to speed up the implementation of Egypt's nuclear power plant at El-Dabaa in terms of fully exempting from taxes all parties involved in building and operating nuclear projects, including contractors, subcontractors, equipment suppliers, and workers," explained MP Hend Rashed, deputy chairman of the House's Energy and Environment Committee.

The three-article legislation would also extend the NPPA's mandate to include the implementation of water desalination projects by use of nuclear power technology.

"Besides, it would allow the NPPA to recruit state employees whose high-calibre scientific experience can contribute to the quick implementation of Egypt's nuclear programme," said Rashad.

MPs said they approve the legislation as a necessary step toward implementing Egypt's first NPP. "But we hope that this step would also help lower electricity prices and bills for citizens in the long run and that the NPPA would take all executive measures necessary to get rid of nuclear waste in a safe way," said MP Jihan El-Bayoumi.

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