Construction starts of unit 4 at first nuclear power plant in Egypt

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The first concrete has been poured into the foundation slab of unit 4 of the first nuclear power plant (NPP) in Egypt being built at El Dabaa, according to an announcement by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom.  

Present via videoconference at the first concrete pouring ceremony were the Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. 

A Rosatom statement said that the pouring of the first concrete for unit 4 signified that all four units at the Egyptian NPP are now under construction, “making the four-unit El Dabaa nuclear power plant the largest nuclear construction project on the African continent.” 

Egypt and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement in 2015 under which Rosatom will help build and part-finance the first Egyptian NPP to be owned by the Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plant Authority (NPPA).   

Among those present at the site were the Prime Minister of Egypt Moustafa Madbouly, Egypt’s Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker, Rosatom Director General (DG) Alexey Likhachev, and NPPA Board Chairman Dr. Amged El-Wakeel.  

“Now all four power units of the El Dabaa nuclear power plant are under construction. This means that our Egypt site is becoming one of the two largest nuclear construction projects in the world,” the Rosatom DG said at the ceremony.  

Egyptian Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said the El Dabaa NPP testifies to the close involvement and support provided by the political leadership of both Egypt and Russia, as well as the round-the-clock hard work and dedication of the working groups from both sides. 

In the first week of May 2023, the first concrete was poured for the third power unit at El Dabaa. Molten core catchers, one of the main elements of the NPP’s passive safety system, were installed in units 1 and 2 in October and November last year, respectively.  

The El Dabaa NPP site, located on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast about 130 km northwest of the capital Cairo, will have four Russian-designed VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors of 1,200 MW capacity each, making Egypt the only country in the region to have the advanced Generation III+ reactor.    

El Dabaa will be the largest project of Russo-Egyptian cooperation since the Aswan Dam. Egypt has aspired to have its own nuclear energy industry for more than half-a-century.     

Although the Egyptian nuclear power program was started in 1954, and its first research reactor ETRR-1 was acquired from the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1958, it is only now that work has started on building the country’s first nuclear power plant.     

The El Dabaa NPP is being constructed under a package of contracts which came into force in December 2017. As per the contract, Rosatom will not only construct the NPP but will also supply nuclear fuel for its whole life cycle, as well as assist Egyptian partners in the training of personnel and in support of operations and service during the first 10 years of its operation. Under a separate agreement, Rosatom will build a special storage and will supply containers for storing spent nuclear fuel.