Egypt to speed up Dabaa peaceful nuclear power program per Sisi directives: Minister

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 27 Aug 2022

The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy is speeding up the process of implementing its peaceful nuclear-power-generation program, per directives from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Minister Mohamed Shaker said.

Mohamed Shaker
File Photo: The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker. Al-Ahram


In an exclusive interview with Ahram that was published on Saturday, Shaker explained that "under directives from President El-Sisi, and according to the president's national priorities, the ministry is planning to start laying the first concrete foundation for the second reactor at the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) project in November.

Egypt has started in 2015 the process of constructing the Dabaa NPP, its first-ever nuclear power plant to generate nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in collaboration with Russia's state-owned Rosatom.

The Dabaa plant is situated 135 km southwest of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and 320 km northwest of the capital Cairo.

The planned four reactors for the plant are expected to operate at a full capacity of 4,800 MW – with each reactor generating 1,200 MW - by 2030.

"We are currently doing our best to ensure that the construction work on the four-reactor plant is completed according to schedule," stressed Shaker.

"The ministry has laid the concrete foundations for the first reactor in July, in coordination with Rosatom," Shaker said.

"The construction of the Dabaa NPP is moving at a steady pace and there is close coordination among all state authorities to ensure the success of Egypt's national nuclear power programme," Shaker stressed.

On Friday, Ahram reported that Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has extended the tenure of Amgad El-Wakeel as chair of Egypt's Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA), which oversees the Dabaa project, for four more years, starting 5 September.

El-Wakeel told Ahram: "On 20 July, we began laying the first concrete foundation for the first Dabaa reactor, in coordination with Russia's nuclear engineering company Rosatom, and we aim to start laying the concrete work for the second reactor on 19 November."

"Rosatom will build a state-of-the art plant with reactors the Russian VVER-1200 innovative GEN+3 design, which is the most common technology used today in generating nuclear power around the world," said El-Wakil.

"The Dabaa plant will meet the highest safety standards in compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) safety regulations and, as a result, the plant will be able to withstand earthquakes, airplane crashes, explosions, and even tsunamis."

“The supervision of the IAEA was a necessary step before we began the actual construction of the first reactor on the ground,” he said.

According to various reports, the Dabaa NPP will cost around $30 billion. The project is being financed through a $25 billion loan extended by Russia to Egypt - with the remaining 15 percent to be covered by the Egyptian treasury. Egypt will start repayment on the Russian loan in 2029, at an interest rate of three percent annually.

“Egypt will pay 20-25 percent of the cost of the first and second reactors, and 30-35 percent of the cost of the third and fourth,” said El-Wakil.

Meanwhile, the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. Ltd. (KHNP), a nuclear power subsidiary of the state-run South Korea Electric Power Corp., has signed on Thursday a $2.25 billion deal with the Russian Atomstroyexport (ASE), a construction subsidiary of Rosatom, to build facilities and supply materials for the Dabaa NPP.

"Under the deal, KHNP will supply materials and equipment, and construct 80 facilities at Dabaa's four-reactor NPP, as well as turbine buildings and other structures between 2023 and 2029," according to a statement released by the South Korean embassy in Cairo on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy explained in a statement, also on Thursday, that the Russian ASE will be responsible for the construction of all of the Dabaa NPP four reactors, with the aim to start commercial operation of the first reactor in 2028.

For his part, South Korea's Ambassador in Cairo Hong Jin Wook said that the KHNP deal with ASE in Cairo marks the Asian economic powerhouse first major overseas nuclear plant construction project since Seoul reached a mega deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to build the Barakah reactors in Emirates in 2009.

The South Korean ambassador said he has high hopes that the participation of South Korea's KHNP in implementing the Dabaa project will be a symbolic beginning for long-term cooperation between the South Korea and Egypt in the fields of economy and energy.

He noted that the Dabaa project is one of the core projects in the Egyptian government’s efforts to secure electric power supply and to expand the renewable energy sector in the country.

"The two countries are witnessing consolidation in comprehensive and mutually beneficial cooperation through a series of joint development projects, including the participation in the Dabaa NPP, as well as last February's signing of the contract for joint production of the K9 howitzer artillery vehicles, and the contract to [locally] manufacture metro carriages for the Cairo Metro that was signed in August," Hong Jin Wook said.

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