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Construction of Egypt’s First Nuclear Power Plant To Begin in 2021

Aug. 24, 2020 (EIRNS)—It was widely reported in Arabic press Aug. 20 that the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plant Authority (NPPA) confirmed that a permit is expected to be issued for Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, and that construction would then start in the second half of 2021. While the exact context of NPPA Chairman Amjad Al-Wakeel’s comments are not noted in the coverage, the NPPA had first announced that Site Approval Permit for the El Dabaa plant had been issued in March 2019.

To be located on the Mediterranean Sea, west of Alexandria, the plant will ultimately contain four reactor units, completely built by Russia’s Rosatom. Each reactor will be a third-generation pressurized water reactor, capable of 1.2 gigawatts output, along with enhanced (earthquake and anti-terror) safety features. The first reactor is expected online in 2026, and commissioning of the other three by 2028. When complete, the four-reactor complex will add 4.8 GW (about 15%) to Egypt’s grid. Egypt is one of the few countries in Africa where 99% of the citizenry has access to electricity, according to the World Bank.

Not surprisingly, there is great anticipation surrounding this plant, discussion of which dates back to 2006. Rosatom has been training and “upskilling” technical personnel since 2014, and in 2015 approved the financing plan, in which the Russian contractor will provide a $25 billion loan, expected to cover 85% of the construction. The loan reportedly has a 22-year payback period, with a 3% interest rate.

Egypt now finds itself in a race to build Africa’s second nuclear plant, competing with Kenya, which is working with Korea to build a plant on the Indian Ocean. Kenya’s plans are undergoing review by its National Environment Authority. The Egyptian El Dabaa plant has already cleared environmental approval, and been certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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