Russian nuclear engineer Rosatom has begun work on site for Egypt’s first reactor, pouring the concrete base for El Dabaa’s unit 1, World Nuclear News reports.
When complete, the $25bn plant will have four VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors and will be located on the Mediterranean coast, about 170km west of Alexandria.
A ceremony was held on Wednesday to mark the event, attended by Mohamed Shaker, Egypt’s electricity minister, Amged El-Wakeel, chair of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority and Alexey Likhachov, director general of Rosatom.
Likhachov said: “The construction launch at El-Dabaa means that Egypt has joined the nuclear club. Construction of the nuclear power plant will allow Egypt to reach a new level of technology, industry and education development. The plant will be the largest project of the Russian–Egyptian cooperation since the Aswan High Dam.
“Having its own nuclear energy industry has been a dream for the Egyptian people for more than half-a-century, and it is a great honour for Rosatom to make this dream come true."
Shaker added: "The ceremony commemorating the pouring of the first concrete for unit 1 is a great delight for us. The commencement of full-scale construction of unit 1 is a historic event for Egypt. The political leadership and the Egyptian–Russian cooperation contributed to the implementation of this ambitious project despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The project, which was conceived in the 1980s, was agreed by presidents Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Vladimir Putin in December 2017, but the start of works was then subject to numerous delays.
In February 2020, three Egyptian companies – Petrojet, Hassan Allam and Arab Contractors – were chosen to begin site preparation work (see further reading).
The contract stipulates that Rosatom will finance and build the plant, supply Russian uranium to fuel it, and begin a 10-year training programme to give Egyptian engineers the skills needed to run the reactors. The state-owned Russian company will also build a storage facility for nuclear fuel.
Egypt will begin repaying the loan in 2029, at an interest rate of 3%.