Rosatom begins onsite works on Egypt’s first nuclear plant

Works are underway on Egypt’s first nuclear reactor, with specialist Rosatom beginning the process of pouring the over $25bn plant’s concrete base. Once complete, the El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant will boast four VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors with a total power generation capacity of 4,800 MW.

The project is taking shape in the El Dabaa, Matrouh Governorate, on the Mediterranean coast, roughly 300km north-west of Cairo. Plans were announced in the 1980s, however numerous delays have stalled the project’s launch until now; three Egyptian companies, Petrojet, Hassan Allam and Arab Contractors were chosen to begin site preparation work in February 2020.

“The construction launch at El Dabaa NPP Unit 1 means that Egypt has joined the nuclear club. Rosatom will build cutting-edge power units of VVER-1200 design in the Arab Republic of Egypt,” explained Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev.

In December 2017, it was announced that Rosatom would build the nuclear plant, which was then estimated to cost $21bn.

As per the terms of the contract, Rosatom is responsible for the funding and construction of the plant, in addition to supplying uranium to fuel it. The company will also assist in training personnel and will support Egyptian authorities in the operation and servicing of the nuclear plant for the first 10 years of its operation. Additionally, Rosatom will provide training to Egyptian engineers to ensure their skills are up-to-date with regards to running the reactors, and it will build a storage facility for nuclear fuel.

Likhachev added, “We have gained experience constructing and operating NPPs with such reactors both in Russia and abroad. Construction of the nuclear power plant will allow Egypt to reach a new level of technology, industry and education development. The plant will be the largest project of the Russian-Egyptian cooperation since the Aswan High Dam. Having its own nuclear energy industry has been a dream for the Egyptian people for more than half-a-century, and it is a great honour for Rosatom to make this dream come true.”

At the pouring ceremony, Likhachev was joined by Dr Mohamed Shaker, Egyptian Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, and Dr Amged El-Wakeel, Board Chairman of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority of Egypt (NPPA), the owner and future operator of the El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant.

Dr Shaker dubbed the commencement of full-scale construction of Unit 1 as a historic event for Egypt. He concluded, “The political leadership and the Egyptian-Russian cooperation contributed to the implementation of this ambitious project despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, which did not have a negative impact on the project.”

In October 2018, AAEM said it won a contract to supply turbine hall equipment for Units 1 to 4 of the El Dabaa nuclear power station. In July 2021, it was announced that the permits for the construction of the plant had been applied for.

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