Egypt to Move Ahead With Nuclear Power Plans

Egypt’s minister of electricity and energy will soon submit a report to President Morsi detailing the steps necessary to build Egypt’s first nuclear plant. Marcell Nasser reports that Egypt needs an additional 3,000 megawatts per year of power to keep up with rising demands, and has already passed preliminary laws regulating nuclear production.

al-monitor Buildings are lit up as late night traffic snakes its way through the streets close to Tahrir Square in Cairo February 13, 2011. Photo by REUTERS/Dylan Martinez.

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nuclear program, nuclear power, nuclear, mohammed morsi, iaea, egypt

Jul 12, 2012

In the coming days, Egypt’s Minister of Electricity and Energy Hassan Yunis will submit a detailed report to President Mohammed Morsi outlining the executive steps necessary to create Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, which is to be built in the town of Dabaa. The report includes an action plan to implement the nuclear program. The report was ordered in response to Egypt’s depleting traditional sources of energy and a need for environmental consciousness. What’s more, it is understood that the economic feasibility of renewable energy is linked to future scientific progress.

The report elaborates on the reasons for Egypt to adopt a nuclear program and build plants to generate electricity. The most pressing issue is meeting the country’s growing demand for electricity, which means an additional 3000 megawatts annually. The program would also create employment opportunities and develop local industries.

The report also sheds light on the world nuclear-energy production: In 2011, 436 nuclear reactors operating in 31 countries accounted for 14% of the world’s electricity supply. Sixty-two additional reactors are under construction in 14 countries, and these will add a capacity of 60,000 megawatts. In addition, 128 countries from around the world are willing to build another 157 reactors, with another 175,000 megawatts of capacity.

In the report, Yunis demonstrated the economic feasibility of the project, detailing the necessary steps for the electricity sector along with the cooperation of international and local actors. The report cited a law regulating the use of nuclear and radioactive materials and adopted a list of regulations within a framework of transparency and accordance to international treaties. The most important item in the list of regulations is that a nuclear-monitoring body is to be created under the supervision the prime minister.

The documents and specifications relating to the Egyptian nuclear program were ready in February 2011. However, in light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, the specifications were updated in cooperation with experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The report includes studies on the feasibility of transferring the project to another location. It asserts that such a step would be difficult given the huge investments and significant amount of time it has taken to conclude the study on the current proposed site. Several other studies would be necessary before other locations could be considered appropriate. According to the report, these studies can take more than three years to conduct, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A reduction of the site area, as has been suggested in certain proposals, would mean a reduction in scale for the project, which entails the construction of six nuclear power plants. New sites would thus become necessary, which would cost the government more funds. The report stated that residents from the town of Dabaa and neighboring areas will benefit from new employment opportunities and other activities associated with the program. It also mentioned that the project has the potential to lead to an economic boom that will open new markets and enhance workers’ living conditions. Workers will benefit from the development of infrastructure such as electricity, water, roads and communications networks, as well as other enhanced services such as health and education.

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