Egyptian Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Dr Mohamed Shaker, and Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev, on 20 July attended the ceremony in Egypt marking the pouring of first concrete for unit 1 of the El-Dabaa NPP, signalling the formal start of construction. The Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA) had issued the construction permit for unit 1 on 29 June 2022, ahead of schedule.

El-Dabaa NPP, Egypt’s first NPP, will be constructed in the city of El-Dabaa in Matrouh Governorate on the Mediterranean coast, some 300km north-west of Cairo. The plant will comprise four units with generation III+ VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors. The NPP is being constructed by Rosatom in accordance with contracts that entered into force in December 2017 based on an inter-governmental agreement signed by Egypt and Russia in 2015. The contracts specify that Russia will also supply nuclear fuel throughout the lifecycle of the plant, arrange for the training of the Egyptian personnel, and assist in the operation and maintenance of the plant for the first 10 years. The cost of the project is $30 billion, 85% of which is financed through a $25 billion Russian loan. Under another agreement, Rosatom will build a special storage facility and deliver casks for storing used nuclear fuel.

Dr Amged El-Wakeel, Board Chairman of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority of Egypt (NPPA), the owner and future operator of the plant, awarded honorary plaques commemorating the event to Dr Shaker; Major-General Khaled Shoeib, Governor of Matrouh, where the project is being built; Dr Samy Shaaban Attallah, Chairman of ENRRA); Alexei Likhachev; Alexander Korchagin, Senior Vice President of ASE JSC; and Grigory Sosnin, Vice President of ASE JSC and General Supervisor of El-Dabaa NPP Project Management. In turn, Dr Shaker and Alexei Likhachev awarded commemorative medals to members of the joint Russian-Egyptian project team in recognition of their outstanding efforts.

“The construction launch at the El-Dabaa NPP unit 1 means that Egypt has joined the nuclear club,” said Alexey Likhachev. “Construction of the NPP will allow Egypt to reach a new level of technology, industry and educational development. The plant will be the largest Russian-Egyptian project since the Aswan High Dam. Having its own nuclear energy industry has been Egypt’s dream for more than half-a-century, and it is a great honour for Rosatom to make this dream come true.” Dr Shaker stated: “The commencement of full-scale construction of unit 1 is a historic event for Egypt.” He noted that the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic did not have a negative impact on the Project.

Image: Egyptian Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Dr Mohamed Shaker, and Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev mark the pouring of first concrete for Egypt's El-Dabaa NPP (photo courtesy of Rosatom)