Egypt And Nuclear Energy

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Egypt And Nuclear Energy

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Authored by Borislav Boev; Originally appeared in Bulgarian at A-specto

On December 10th 2017, the president of Russian Vladimir Putin made an unexpected geopolitical trip in the Middle East. On that day, he managed to visit the Russian airbase Hmeimim in Syria, then he met his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, and the trip finished with negotiations in Ankara, Turkey.

In Cairo, the Russian and Egyptian authorities signed a contract to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant in Dabaa. The whole investment project is worth $21 billion. It is expected that the Russian side will cover 85% of the construction costs in the form of loan, and the rest 15% will be covered by Egypt. The plant in Dabaa, which is located 130 km northwest from the capital Cairo, is planned to be finished somewhere around 2026-2030. Egypt’s first nuclear power plant will be running four brand new VVER-1200 reactors.

Speaking of energy projects, the cooperation between Russia and Egypt isn’t coming out of the blue. Moscow and Cairo had signed the initial contract for Dabaa NPP back in 2015. Ever since then, the Egyptian government has taken legal measures to provide the necessary legal basis for the development of nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

The completion of big projects like Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant will only strengthen Russia’s political presence in the Middle East.

On the other hand, Egypt is pursuing nuclear energy policy for several reasons. Nuclear power plants are one of the most cost-effective forms of electricity generation. Modern reactors are built with a number of security measures, both passive and active.

From a technical standpoint, the advantage of the nuclear reactors comes from its main fuel element – uranium. Its thermal properties are better than those of coal. So if the burning of 1kg. coal can generate 8kWh of energy, the same amount of burnt uranium will provide 24,000,000kWh energy.

Moreover, the nuclear reactors don’t emit carbon emissions, which is a major problem of the industrialized countries today.

The energy crisis in Egypt has shown that the country needs to build new power plants. At the end of 2013, the electricity output reached 30 000 megawatts – far from being enough for a large country with a population of 82 million. According to a report by the Egyptian Energy Ministry published the same year, households had the largest share of electricity consumption – 40%. Industrial plants consumed around 30% of the country’s electricity production. Between 2000 and 2014, the electricity consumption per capita grew by 72% – from 961,95kwh to 1657,77 kWh, respectively.

The terror attacks on the energy infrastructure are another major problem for the Egyptian State. These attacks are one of the reasons for the frequent power blackouts. Serious difficulties with supplying power have arisen. In 2014, the daily demand for electricity amounted to 27,700 megawatts – 20% more than the country could produce at that time.

Nuclear power plants aren’t just industrial facilities used to produce electricity. Their specific nature makes them a key aspect of the national security. So it’s quite natural such projects to face questions about security. A major threat is the risk of terror attacks. The Islamic State has presence in the Sinai Peninsula which is a big problem. On November 24th 2017, ISIS killed more than 305 people in a mosque in al-Rawdah in northern Sinai – the bloodiest terror attack in the modern history of Egypt.

Ensuring the safety of the nuclear power plants is vital for the Egyptian authorities if they decide to go on with building the Dabaa station.

Another issue would be the staff of the new plant. Egypt has never operated nuclear power plants before. This means that the authorities will have to make serious investments in education and training future personnel – physicists, control room operators, technical staff, engineers, management and so on. The partnership with the Russian side is crucial, not only because the technology is Russian, but also because the Russians have solid experience and know-how in running nuclear power plants.

The construction of a new nuclear power plant is a big investment project. It requires mobilization of huge financial resources. Poor financial management is one of the most common problems faced by countries when they launch such mega-projects. Poor planning and short-sighted political decisions can significantly delay the construction or escalate the investment costs, thus making the whole project economically unprofitable. Other factors may also delay the construction – such as economic or political instability in the country. It’s important that Egypt maintains steady macroeconomic indicators such as GDP growth, stable inflation rate and reasonable debt levels, so the project goes on schedule.

From a strategic point of view, having new nuclear power capacities provides many political opportunities – both domestic and regional. With the construction of the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant, Egypt can solve its internal economic problems, but also strengthen its position as a key energy player in the region.

Economic-wise, nuclear power can provide solution to the country’s most urgent energy problems. The modern industry needs more electricity. High technology, automation and robotics will have a major share in the new manufacturing industries. Egypt’s industrial production rose by 29,2% between 2016 and 2017. Expanding the industrial sector means that the country’s energy needs will increase. But the industry does not only need electricity, it’s important for the prices of electricity to be cost-effective, so business can improve its competitiveness which would result in better economic performance.

The households’ energy supply is another important element because they are the largest electricity consumer in the country. Nuclear power plants have the potential to lower the cost of electricity.

Egypt’s nuclear power plants don’t mean that the country will give up the other ways of electricity generation such as renewable energy sources. Earlier in 2017, the Egyptian government announced its plans to invest in renewables as well. According to those plans, the share of renewables in the country’s energy mix should reach 20% by 2020. Egypt has favorable territorial conditions for renewable energy installations such as vast deserts, uninhabited terrains, and a lot of sunlight and high temperatures.

The new nuclear capabilities for civil purposes will allow Egypt to diversify its energy mix. The nuclear power plants have the potential to be competitive as a base power. This is the case in many countries in Europe and Asia, which continue to use nuclear plants. Today, thermal plants have the largest share in Egypt’s energy mix. Adding nuclear power, combined with the ambitious plans for renewable energy, could certainly provide the necessary energy diversification.

References:

(1) https://www.euronuclear.org/info/encyclopedia/f/fuelcomparison.htm

(2) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/20/egypt-blackouts-energy-crisis-power-cuts

(3) http://www.climateactionprogramme.org/news/egypt-to-invest-billions-in-renewable-energy-plan

(4) http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/CNPP2015_CD/countryprofiles/Egypt/Egypt.htm

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  • AlexanderAmproz

    Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has to be cautious(lol)
    Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is a CIA Agent !

  • KennyB

    Come off it, Borislav. Nuclear power stations aren’t built because they are cost-effective. They are built because they are very much a part of the weapons industry and because they are vanity projects. Renewables, including solar and wind generation have been cheaper than gas turbines, coal-fired and nuclear power stations for some time now.

    Given that Egypt has plentiful sunshine, solar makes a whole lot more sense, can be commissioned in months, rather than years, and doesn’t have the downsides of nuclear. Methods of storing energy for use on dull days and overnight are becoming more mainstream by the day such as pumped storage schemes, molten sodium storage and large batteries (like the one in South Australia). Egypt, being a hot place, can also use ice storage schemes to use electricity when it is plentiful to provide cooling for buildings in periods when electricity supply dips.

    • Johnpd

      You talk nonsense, KennyB. Fashionable, but nonsense.

      For some reality on nuclear power read Merchants of Despair, radical environmentalists, criminal pseudo-scientists, and the fatal cult of anti-humanism. By Robert Zubrin PhD nuclear engineer with 9 patents to his name or pending.

      Nuclear is way safer & cleaner than coal & way more reliable than “renewables”
      It is demonised in our fake news media, owned by the Banksters & Big Oil who want us chained to oil & gas.

      Book also looks at the depopulation agendas behind hijacked “environmentalism”.
      Grim, but reality.

      • as

        Nuclear remains the most effective renewable energy with other free renewable energy soon replacing the older carbon fuels based energy reactors.

        • Johnpd

          YouTube & Matt Ridley on Fossil Fuels Greening the Planet
          19 mins.
          :)

      • KennyB

        On their own, solar and wind lack the baseload reliability of coal, gas, oil and nuclear. Many of the subsidy schemes in countries like Germany make the supply of electricity more expensive, not better.

        Why are we not working on solutions that will, in time, solve the problems of renewables? Probably mostly due to vested interests. Do technologies already exist that can allow us to store energy while the sun is shining? Yes. Is this just an engineering exercise? Yes.

        Fukushima Daichi will forever (to all intents and purposes) stand as the ultimate example of why we should not build nuclear power stations. It might take hundreds of years to clean up the mess and remove the fuel and contaminated structures, equipment and soil. Meanwhile, millions of litres of highly radioactive water is being produced daily. How long will it take for Tokyo to return to safe levels of radiation and are the Japanese authorities lying about the extent of the contamination? Safer and cleaner? Bullshit.

        Nuclear fission is inheritently polluting and the waste will live on for thousands of years. Burning coal has contaminated our oceans with mercury. Oil is polluting at every step of it’s extraction and use.

        In the UK situation, why would we want to be locked into a contract that pays £92.50 per MW/h (at 2013 – inflation linked increases are part of the contract) which is the most expensive source to date, not the cheapest?

        Instead of pretending that renewables are problem-free, let’s solve the problems (lack of baseload capacity) and move on. Iceland shows us what can be done with clean energy. Once you’ve done the heavy lifting, you have what amounts to a cheap (nearly free) source of electricity forever.

        Imagine what we can do with that.

        • Johnpd

          Again, you talk nonsense.

          At Fukushima there were deaths from the tsunami, deaths from the panicked govt evacuation order, yes.
          THERE WERE NO RADIATION DEATHS.

          http://www.cfact.org
          Read the Fukushima article.
          Read the book I ref’d.
          Get real.

          • KennyB

            It’s not about how many deaths the various failures of nuclear power stations have clocked up. People get killed in explosions in coal-fired powers stations and other industrial accidents and probably some have died from falling off roofs while installing solar panels. Irrelevant.

            Nuclear power stations create waste that will be radioactive for thousands of years. As far as I know, not one nation has come up with a proper solution for dealing with that waste, and there has been a lot of kicking the can down the road for the next administration or the next generation to deal with.

            Unless, and until there is a comprehensive solution to the radioactive waste, no matter how “safe” the reactors are, they create pollution that is, in human time scales, close to everlasting.

            So there were no deaths from radiation at Fukushima. But decades from now, how many will die from cancer because of the radioactive waste from the site. You think like a global elite shill. “Never mind the long-term environmental cost, as long as the vested interests make billions in the short-term.”

            “Clean energy” means NO pollultion (or very little). Swapping one kind of pollution (greenhouse gases) for another (radioactive waste) is a diversion from the real solution, which is solar, wind, tidal, etc. backed up by distributed storage solutions (batteries, molten sodium, pumped storage schemes, etc.).

        • Fukushima Daichi will forever stand as the ultimate example of why we should not allow Israeli connected firms provide security for our nuclear power stations.

        • Iranian77

          Very well said KennyB.

          Sadly by the amounts of negative replies and lack of upvotes to your logical and sensible comments it shows how backward and stupid mankind still is. It’ll be a long while till most humans and human society in general evolves, I fear by that time it’ll be too late for the earth to recover.

    • Arthur Smith

      Renewables are only cheaper while they are heavily subsidised, otherwise they can’t compete with atom.

    • Solomon Krupacek

      Nuclear power stations aren’t built because they are cost-effective.
      They are built because they are very much a part of the weapons industry

      not all are able. and this one can not be used for miltary purposes.

      • KennyB

        Depleted uranium weapons are part of the arsenel of the USA and have been used in Iraq, Afganistan, etc. It’s not only about breeder reactors that produce plutonium. The effect of depleted uranium weapons will continue for many generations. There’s no end to the evils that the American Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex can create.

        • Solomon Krupacek

          this is another category. maybe i made mistake and wrote not enough clearly, but i though on A-, H-bombs.

  • Rob

    Very interesting development for Syrian nation.

    The Syrian first nuclear power plant of the type PWR 1100 megawatts will be constructed in Latakia by the help of Russia. This nuclear power plant will be completed in 2025.

    Assad have banned American grain. No grain will be imported from America.
    The grain will be imported only from friendly countries like Russia.
    Assad have banned American contractors in Syria. No contractors from America are allowed to participate in Syrian reconstruction or open any kind of NGOs in Syria.

    All civil and military engineering contracts will be allotted to only friendly countries like Russia and Iran. New residential blocks, electricity generation plants and oil and gas refineries and steel mills will be constructed on priority basis to strengthen Syrian economy. All military hardware, fighter jets and commercial jets will be overhauled locally in Syria.

    • Ruth

      Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
      On tuesday I got a brand new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It Sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
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    • XJ5

      The Western-European Empire, The European Union, NATO and the ,Israel, Saudi Arabian, Turkey ,Qatar Alliance were just as pivotal to the destruction of Syria as the Americans so a ban should be placed on all those other countries provided those bans have no sever damaging impact’s on Syria’s Economy, Social, Political,or Geo-political interest.

      • Rob

        For ban and sanctions need unity of all anti Zionists governments.

  • RichardD

    Energy is on my off planet travel to do list. However the ETs are providing energy on their home planets, I don’t think that it’s from polluting carbon fuel combustion. I also want to look at other races transition histories, including those who destroyed themselves in the process, from being a planet only to an ET civilization. To see what mistakes to avoid. So that our’s can be safe and peaceful.

    • One mistake is using nuclear as bombs.

  • Solomon Krupacek

    egypt never will pay back this money

  • Enkidu

    The good thing about Egypt is that you can just build the nuclear plants in remote desert areas. In case of either an attack or an accident, you have miles upon miles of nothing between the radiation and the people

    (I don’t know how radiation propagates in a desert but I would assume it’s safer than, say, Chernobyl)

  • Igor Dano

    NNP in Egypt?
    A nonsense. Good only for the base load (Assuan is today the base load part of power grid.)
    Solar would be cheaper faster to build and effective.
    This NPP is pure politics on both sides of the stick.

  • Rodney Loder

    The coefficient of Nuclear Power as a ratio of political perspective increasing self respect is probably in the order of about 15, which is why Egypt needs to go Nuclear, this novel humanitarian attitude to warfare will drop by the wayside as the Planet heats up, it’s nearly deceased already.

    Now , ! any correspondent filling his articles with platitudes of ‘well being’, henceforth providing advantage for the least leveraged humans, will find his arguments are non-credible concerning outcomes particularly with the Water Wars coming up.

    Pan-Arabism should be top of the priority list with its offsider Nuclear Power, for peaceful purposes of course, I just might mention that israel is highly disadvantage with regard the peaceful Nuclear Energy production due to israel’s size, so this Egyptian Dabba facility will need to be ground zeroed before it gets off the drawing board or its curtains for Israel that’s for sure, good riddance piece of rubbish.