Foreign megaprojects: Russia will build the country's first nuclear power plant for Egypt
In 1971, the grand opening of the Aswan Hydraulic Engineering Complex took place in Egypt. The object was built for about ten years with the direct participation of the USSR. At one time, the hydroelectric power station provided about half of the total amount of electricity generated in the country.
Today there are about 20 power plants in the Arab Republic of Egypt (APE); the most powerful ones were put into operation in different cities in 2018 - three TPPs of 4.8 GW each. Soon the first nuclear power plant of similar capacity will appear in the country. The project will be implemented in the city of El-Dabaa by Rosatom, which the parties agreed on in November 2015,by signing an intergovernmental agreement. This joint event will be the largest since the Aswan Dam.
A record deal in the history of the global nuclear industry
Russia and Egypt signed an agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy in 2008, and two years later Cairo announced plans to build a nuclear power plant 3.5 km from the Mediterranean Sea. Then it was reported that the first block of the future station could be launched by 2019. It is worth noting that the issue of building such a facility has been discussed by Cairo and Moscow since the 1950s.
Exploration work was completed by the beginning of winter 2017, and in the same year, in the presence of the heads of both states, documents were signed on the entry into force of contracts for the construction of four power units. To implement this plan, about $ 30 billion is needed, and 25 of them will be provided by the Russian side in the form of a loan for a period of 13 years at 3% per annum.
Egypt will repay the borrowed funds after the construction is completed. President of the Arab Republic Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed that the new nuclear power plant will become the most reliable in the world. About 50% of the equipment will be manufactured in Russia.
The agreement implies not only the construction of four modern power units with VVER-1200 reactors, but also service and fuel maintenance for a period of 60 years. Thus, the total amount of contracts amounted to $ 60 billion, which, asnoted , makes the deal the most expensive in the history of the global nuclear industry.
Moreover, Rosatom promotes the training of qualified personnel to work at the future plant. In particular, several Egyptians were sent to study nuclear power at Tomsk Polytechnic University, where the first group of students defended their theses in 2020.
It was assumed that the Russian company would begin the actual implementation of the project in the next two years, immediately after obtaining the necessary permits. And the last fourth power unit will be commissioned by 2028. In 2018, disagreements arose regarding the construction site. Rosatom was not satisfied with the option proposed by the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plant Authority, namely the strength of the soil at the site.
The head of the Russian state company Alexei Likhachev in the same year said that after the elimination of some remarks, it is expected to obtain permission for a number of preparatory work - digging a foundation pit, construction of access roads necessary for the construction. And after the license is issued, approximately in 2020, the foundation will be poured.
The construction site was officially approved in April 2019. Six months later, the Egyptian president invited his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to the ceremony of laying the first stone, expressing the hope that all issues on the project will be finally resolved in the very near future. The ceremony was planned to be held in mid-2020, but due to the pandemic, plans had to be revised. Nevertheless, it was announced in the summer that construction would begin before the end of the year, but a little later it became known that the Russian company would be able to obtain a license for the construction of the first block only in 2021.
In the last week of last year, the head of Rosatom met in Cairo with the President of Egypt. Following the negotiations, the work schedule was adjusted. The preparatory stage is still ongoing, which has been a little protracted for a number of reasons, the main of which is called a pandemic. According to the latest information, they should start pouring the foundation as soon as possible.
It is planned to involve a number of Egyptian companies in the project. In December, Rosatom held a special webinar for potential contractors. In total, up to 13 thousand people will be involved in the facility at the same time.
The future nuclear power plant, as the Egyptian authorities have repeatedly noted, is of great importance for the country. Preparations began for the construction of the first nuclear power plant on the land of the pharaohs more than half a century ago. Various factors prevented the acceleration of the process - the refusal to ratify the agreement on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the global financial crisis, and an internal political crisis.