Construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant is moving forward, and a government official said the country plans to build “several” more reactors “in various regions” to help support economic development and increasing demand for power.
Hesham Hegazy, who leads the nuclear fuel sector for Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA), made the comments during a panel discussion this week at a Rosatom-sponsored event on the role of nuclear energy in sustainable development. Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation, is leading construction of four planned Generation III+ VVER-1200 reactors at the 4.8-GW El Dabaa nuclear power plant, which will be Egypt’s first commercial nuclear power generation facility.
The first unit at El Dabaa is scheduled to come online in 2026. Russia is lending Egypt $25 billion for El Dabaa’s construction. The plant will be located about 190 miles northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast.
Hegazy said Egypt wants to get at least 8% of the country’s electricity from nuclear power by 2030. Natural gas currently provides most of Egypt’s power; renewable energy, primarily hydropower, contributes the rest. The country has considered building nuclear power plants since the 1960s, and established the NPPA in 1976. It looked at El Dabaa as a site as early as 1983, but those plans were abandoned after the Chernobyl incident in Russia in 1986.
The NPPA recently submitted licensing documentation to Egypt’s Nuclear and Radiological Regulation Authority to obtain the construction permit for the first two reactors at El Dabaa. Ayman Hamza, a spokesperson for Egypt’s energy ministry, told the Russian news agency Tass that the construction permit for Units 1 and 2 is expected to be approved in the early 2022. Foundation work at the site has been ongoing for the past few years.
Rosatom head Alexey Likhachev in March said his group was planning for full-scale construction of El Dabaa to begin next year. Rosatom and Egypt first agreed on the plan for El Dabaa in 2015.