Construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant will begin in the next two to two-and-a-half years. A statement released by a spokesman for the Energy and Electricity Ministry declared that the 4,800 megawatt (MW) capacity plant – to built by Russia – aims to be operational by 2026.
Moscow and Cairo signed an agreement in 2015 that allowed Russia to build a nuclear power plant in Dabaa along the northwestern coast of Egypt. The project will be financed by a USD$25 billion Russian loan representing 85 percent of the total project cost. Egypt will fund the remaining 15 percent, repaying Russian financing over a 35 year term. Critics have condemned the size of the loan at a time when Egypt’s economy is ailing and inflation has reached record highs.
According to Georgy Kalamanov, Russian Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Egypt must secure a license to build the Dabaa nuclear plant by mid-2020. Russian engineers are currently performing site investigations and developing the final design which will consist of four 1,200 MW reactors.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s eastern neighbor is mothballing its own planned 2,000 MW Russian-built nuclear plant with a smaller, cheaper facility. In May, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan announced a plan to move forward with a small modular nuclear reactor, replacing its planned USD$10 billion nuclear power plant as agreed in 2015 between the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) and Russia’s Rosatom Overseas. Sources cited ‘financial burden’ as main drive behind the change in course.
The small desert kingdom imports 96.6 percent of its energy, according to government statistics, at a cost equivalent to 20 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 and 2012. More than a quarter of that fuel goes to generating electricity. Future demand is expected to grow rapidly, due to population growth and a transition to modern, middle-class lifestyles demanded by the nations young demographic (approximately 35% of the country in under age 18) and the energy required to support the constant influx of refugees from the region’s crisis zones.
By 2020, Jordan’s Energy Ministry expects total energy demand to grow by more than 50 percent and electricity demand to grow by 74 percent. But is Russian-built nuclear the region’s best option to meet needs? Both Egypt and Jordan are ideal for sustainable power generation utilizing solar and wind technologies, and there have been developments in both, such as Jordan’s 52MW Shams solar farm and the Tafila wind farm.
Green Prophet has long reported on local environmental activism. Greenpeace campaigners in Jordan have urged the government to consider “the dire risks” nuclear will have on current and future generations. “Nuclear reactors can never be safe. That is the reality,” said Safa’ Jayoussi, one-time Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner in Jordan. “It is time the government takes seriously our proposition for an energy policy based on renewables.” Greenpeace have issued a report entitled ‘The Future of Energy in Jordan’ illustrating the vast potential for renewable energy in the form of wind and solar energy.but Russian financing keeps nuclear development on the forefront.