El Dabaa nuclear power plant (NPP) project, is a first of its kind in Egypt, planned for development in Matrouh Governorate on the Mediterranean coast, approximately 250km west of Alexandria. It is being developed by the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) under a civil nuclear cooperation agreement signed between the governments of Russia and Egypt in 2015.
The project includes the construction of a 4.8GW nuclear power plant comprising four VVER-1200 nuclear reactors of AES-2206 design that are capable of producing 1.2GW each.
VVER-1200 is a third-generation pressurized water reactor, which is fully compliant with all international safety and post-Fukushima IAEA requirements. It is reportedly designed to withstand the crash of a 400t airplane or earthquakes up to an intensity of 9 on the Richter scale.
Each of the four generating units of the plant will also be equipped with Arabelle half-speed steam turbines and Gigatop 4-pole hydrogen and water-cooled generators. The first unit is expected to begin commercial operations in 2026 while commissioning of the remaining three reactors is scheduled for 2028.
The total cost of the project is approximately US$ 30bn, 85% of which will be provided by the government of Russia and the remaining by its Egyptian counterpart through private investors.
The El Dabaa nuclear power plant project is part of Egypt’s nuclear program, which commenced in 1954. The El Dabaa site was selected for the project in 1983 and the decision for the construction of the plant was announced in October 2007.
The El Dabaa site was approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in August 2010, but the development was halted in 2011 due to the Egyptian revolution and disputes with Dabaa locals.
In February an agreement was signed between Rosatom and Egypt for discussions on the prospective project involving the construction of two 1200 MWe nuclear power units, with the prospect of two more. Rusatom Overseas and the Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) also signed a project development agreement for a two-unit AES-2006 nuclear power plant with a desalination facility.
In June, Rosatom submitted a bid to build four 1200 MWe reactors at El Dabaa. In November, an intergovernmental agreement was signed with Russia to build and operate the four reactors, including fuel supply, used fuel, training, and development of regulatory infrastructure.
A financing agreement for a Russian state export loan was also signed in June, covering 80% of the total cost of the project, with a repayment period of over 22 years starting from 2029.
In December notices to proceed with contracts for the construction of the four units were signed.
In April the NPPA received a site approval permit for the El Dabaa site from the Egyptian Nuclear Regulation and Radiological Authority (ENRRA) and in December it (NPPA) signed a contract with Worley Ltd (formerly WorleyParsons) to serve as a consultant for the El Dabaa project to 2030.
In February representatives from the Russian and Egyptian governments reported that the Covid-19 pandemic had slowed preparations at the site.
In July it was announced that the NPPA had submitted all the necessary documents to ENRRA (National Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority) so as to obtain the construction permits for units 1 and 2 at the El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant.
A high-level Egyptian-Russian delegation led by Mohamed Shaker and Alexey Likhachov, the Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy of Egypt and Rosatom Director General respectively, paid a working visit to the construction site of the proposed El Dabaa nuclear power plant.
Training of the first group of specialists began in early September 2021 at the St. Petersburg branch of Rosatom’s Technical Academy, Russia.
The training program is being carried out in the framework of contracts pertaining to the construction of a nuclear power plant that upon completion would be the North African country’s first of its kind.
It will begin with a six-month Russian language course that will have an enrollment of 465 Egyptian students, after which the trainees will start their theoretical training course on the basis of a reference Rosatom nuclear power plant and will undergo practical training and internships at Leningrad NPP-2 and at other workplaces.
The State Atomiс Energy Corporation will train approximately 1,700 specialists in the framework of this program by the year 2028. The program will take place at both the Rosatom Technical Academy in Russia and the Nuclear Power Plant Training Centre in Egypt.