Professor Dr. Engineer / Amjad Al-Wakil in a scientific symposium at Al-Ahram Al-Eqtisadiah talks about...
Dabaa Nuclear Plant... Zero Emissions Electricity... Gains and Goals
The political administration of Egypt is focusing on implementing a number of giant national projects in various sectors with the aim of creating a development renaissance that will bear fruit at all industrial, agricultural and social levels. Among these national projects, which are proceeding according to a strategic approach, the nuclear plant in Dabaa was the project of the century for the production and generation of electrical energy. It is also It is one of Egypt's pillars for moving forward in achieving mitigation of the effects of climate change, as it is considered green energy internationally and represents zero net emissions. This is in addition to its role in developing the Egyptian industry in leaps that facilitate global competition. To know the stages of building and operating the Dabaa nuclear plant for peaceful purposes, a symposium was held in Al-Ahram Al-Iqtisadi magazine. For the first time, Professor Dr. Amjad Al-Wakil, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority, speaks in a press scoop, reviewing Egypt’s steps in its peaceful nuclear program, and the steps of preparation and construction of the Dabaa station, which carry within them reassuring messages that intensify feelings of hope and pride for this project for all Egyptians, on which hopes are placed to achieve. Clean energy, advanced industry, and economic and social development witnessed by Egyptian society and passed on to future generations.
At the beginning, Dr. Tariq Al-Sanouti, Director General of the Technical Office in Al-Ahram, speaks on behalf of Abdel Mohsen Salama, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al-Ahram Foundation, saying that the issue being raised today regarding the establishment of the nuclear plant for peaceful uses and generating electricity in the Dabaa region shows the importance of discussing it to explain the economic dimensions of this project and convey the correct information to the citizen, away from The false information regarding the establishment of the station, its importance, how to finance it, its impact on the Egyptian climate, and its money are of great importance. These are questions that need to be rationalized in their understanding. This makes the symposium extremely important at the media level and the Arab reader, to correct concepts and media coverage in a simplified manner.
For his part, Dr. Amjad Al-Wakil, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority, explained that the Egyptian peaceful nuclear program for electricity production is one of the pillars of the national development strategy, and the Authority’s role is crystallized in implementing, managing and operating nuclear plants, concluding agreements in this field, preparing and qualifying human cadres, and establishing nuclear plants to generate electricity. And removing the salinity of water, conducting the necessary research and studies, and laying the foundations and specifications for projects to establish nuclear power plants. The importance of the peaceful nuclear program for producing electricity is due to it being clean energy that does not produce any pollutants that harm the environment or greenhouse gases. It helps in mitigating climate change. Its use also ensures the preservation of Traditional energy sources from fossil fuels, especially since they are depleted materials, in addition to maximizing the added value from the use of petroleum and natural gas as an irreplaceable raw material in the petrochemical industries. The nuclear station also contributes to the development of Egyptian industries and the transfer of technology through a long-term program of establishing nuclear stations, which is escalating. With it, local manufacturing gradually increases from one unit to another, and creates an advanced shift in scientific research and development that leads to the creation of industrial development that can compete and conquer global markets.
The need for nuclear energy increases with the emergence of problems with the energy crisis and the scarcity of traditional energy sources. In Egypt, we find that the sources of energy from fossil fuels are limited with the increase in population, in addition to the increase in desires to meet many different aspects of life, in addition to the importance of diversifying and securing different energy sources, whether traditional or New and renewable, as the presence of the energy mix increases, which helps many countries to have nuclear energy within their energy mix system to secure the supply of electrical energy and not depend on a single source. The importance of nuclear energy is also increasing because it is the right of future generations to benefit from energy sources under the umbrella of development. Sustainable energy, especially since it is clean green energy, as it has been considered since 2022 in Europe as green energy that does not emit greenhouse gases and thus contributes to commitment to the Kyoto Agreement to reduce emissions, which makes us keep pace with technological progress and the development of local manufacturing in addition to the economic dimension of the nuclear plant.
Egypt is considered one of the first countries to realize, since the early 1950s, the importance of using nuclear energy to generate electricity, and this was accompanied by the establishment of the Atomic Energy Authority. In 2015, the Nuclear Power Plants Authority invited five companies specialized in the nuclear field, and technical and financial offers were received from them. The countries of Russia, South Korea, and China were the best of them, the Russian offer from the economic and technical aspect, which led to the signing of the contract for the implementation of surveying works with the Russian side, and on November 19, 2015, in the presence of President Sisi, the Intergovernmental Framework Agreement (IGA) and the Intergovernmental Financial Agreement (CIGA) were signed, which is Which opened the doors to the Dabaa station, and also the memorandum of understanding between the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority and its Russian counterpart. As for the cost of the station, Egypt contributes about 15% of its cost according to the government financial agreement. The Russian government gives the Egyptian government credit to finance 85% of the value of the project implementation contracts on financing terms. Maisarah is represented by the lowest interest rate compared to loans from commercial banks and international financial institutions. It is repaid over a period of 22 years after the completion of receiving the nuclear units, from the proceeds from the sale of electricity. This cost comes from the revenues from its electricity production, and we have a 13-year grace period and 22 years to repay the loan.
Al-Wakil spoke about the stages of implementing the nuclear station project, as he explained that they are three stages leading to commercial operation, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s publications. The first stage is to evaluate the requirements for establishing a nuclear station. This stage ended with the issuance of the state’s strategic decision to establish the station in 2007, and then the second stage began. It includes the preliminary work for establishing the nuclear station, and this stage ended with the issuance of a tender and the beginning of contracting procedures, which ended in 2014. The project contracts were completed and signed and entered into force on December 11, 2017, and entry into the third stage, which is the stage of construction of the station for the Egyptian peaceful nuclear program, which in itself is divided It is divided into three sub-stages: the first, which is the preparatory stage or pre-construction stage, which extends over a period of about two and a half years to 4 years, which ended with the first three nuclear units obtaining construction permission and making their first concrete pour. As for the second, which is the construction stage, which lasts for five and a half years and begins after... Obtaining construction permission includes all works related to construction, installations, training, and preparing for the start of operating tests. The major construction has begun with three units and the fourth unit. The major construction phase will begin during the current year as well, God willing, then the pre-operation testing phase, which will last for about 11 months, will begin after obtaining permission. Conducting pre-operation tests until the initial delivery of the unit, which is scheduled for September 2028, with obtaining a license to operate the station, and successively every 6 months, the units are entered, so that in February 2030 all four units will be fully operational and have entered the commercial operation phase, which extends for more than sixty years. .
Al-Wakil added that there are steps followed to establish the nuclear station, which include preparing, training and qualifying the operation and maintenance teams, also preparing the detailed design of the station, preparing and obtaining the requirements for construction permission, as well as manufacturing, supplying, installing and testing the components of the station and obtaining permission to conduct pre-operation tests and permission to load fuel, then completing the tests and connection. He also shed light on the package of contracts for the Dabaa nuclear station project, which includes the engineering, design and construction contract, which is the main contract, the nuclear fuel supply contract, the spent nuclear fuel contract, and the fourth contract, the operation and maintenance support contract, all of which have entered into force. In December 2017, the Egyptian component is considered to be the supervisor of implementation and the future operator of the station. As it is a national project, local participation and development of the Egyptian industry is an important and national part of the project through a long-term program to establish nuclear units in which the rates of local manufacturing increase in each new unit according to a clear and committed plan. This will create a huge shift in the quality and potential of the Egyptian industry and increase its competitiveness in global markets due to the strict quality standards required by the manufacture of nuclear components, which will necessarily move to the manufacture of non-nuclear components produced by the same factories. Therefore, the local participation rates were represented in the first unit about At least 20%, increasing to about 25% in the second unit, 30% in the third unit, and at least 35% in the fourth unit.
The Dabaa station, which is being implemented by the Russian company Atomstroyexport, consists of 4 VVER 1200 nuclear units of the advanced third generation. The capacity of the unit reaches 1,200 megawatts, with a total of 4,800 megawatts for the project. The project won an award among the three best international projects in terms of start-up and launch. In 2019, the work team supervising the project also received the Government Excellence Award for the best work team in 2020 out of 108 competing teams. The Authority’s website was also ranked among the top 10 Egyptian websites for the years 2021 and 2022 due to the effective media window it provides for disseminating information about activities. Also, the International Atomic Energy Agency experts (11 experts) during the ENERG mission praised the readiness of the Egyptian nuclear infrastructure. It is worth noting that the (ENER) mission is an integrated mission to review the nuclear infrastructure in Egypt, which was held at the headquarters of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority to generate electricity during The period from October 27 to November 6, 2019, and the visit of the International Atomic Energy Agency team of experts came within Egypt’s interest in cooperating with the Agency and benefiting from its expertise and programs, in recognition of the importance of nuclear energy and its peaceful applications in achieving economic and social development. The mission took place at the invitation of the government with the aim of conducting an integrated review. The Egyptian Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) concluded its activities on November 6, 2019. The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review mission team expressed that Egypt has made intensive efforts to develop its infrastructure in preparation for the phase of establishing the nuclear station, which demonstrates the extent of the strong support that the Egyptian government gives to the project. The nuclear station in Dabaa, by adhering to security, safety, and non-proliferation standards. The agency also monitored, in its report on the Dabaa station, a number of good practices that may benefit other countries that intend to enter the field of nuclear energy. This report was published globally in September 2020.
Al-Wakil added that the station is characterized by simplicity of design, high fuel efficiency, the highest safety standards and self-safety systems, in addition to an operational lifespan of the station exceeding sixty years. It is also equipped with passive safety systems that do not require energy to get rid of the remaining heat after shutting down operation, but rather rely on gravity and natural flow and are characterized by With the presence of a trap for the reactor core, the double-walled concrete vessel also has a high durability, as it can withstand the collision of a 400-ton aircraft flying at a speed of 150 meters per second.
A number of technical and introductory forums were held about the Egyptian peaceful nuclear program, as the second Egyptian-Russian nuclear energy forum was held in October 2019 and the third in November 2021 in cooperation with the Russian side, and the major companies supplying nuclear station systems participated in it, as well as the Egyptian companies likely to participate in the project to establish the Dabaa nuclear station. The year will be the fourth forum in November 2023. The Nuclear Power Plants Authority, together with the Arab Atomic Energy Authority and in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Arab Ministerial Council for Electricity (Energy Management) of the League of Arab States, organized the Fifth Arab Forum in 2019 and the Sixth Arab Forum in 2022 in the presence of a large number of experts and specialists. With the aim of creating media momentum as one of the Egyptian soft power tools to spread the Egyptian effort at the Arab and African levels, these are forums aimed at responding to skeptics at home and abroad.
Dr. Amjad went on to talk about the most prominent features of the construction and installation work in the first nuclear unit, where the work to protect the construction area from groundwater was completed in March 2022, followed by the completion of the excavation work for the nuclear island and reaching the foundation level in May 2022, then the first concrete pouring work for the foundations of the island buildings began. The nuclear island began in July 2022, and the major construction phase of the station began. The foundation work for the nuclear island was completed and the wall work for the nuclear island buildings began in July 2023. As for the second nuclear unit, the work to protect the construction area from groundwater was completed in June 2022, followed by the completion of the island’s excavation work. The foundation level was reached in September 2022, then the first concrete pour for the bases of the nuclear island buildings was carried out in November 2022. The foundation work for the nuclear island was completed and work on the walls for the nuclear island buildings began in July 2023, while the construction work for the third nuclear unit had been completed. The work of protecting the construction area from groundwater took place in November 2022, and the completion of the work of excavating the nuclear island and reaching the foundation level in February 2023. Also, the first concrete pour for the bases of the nuclear island buildings was carried out in May 2023, and the work of arming and pouring reinforced concrete for the bases of the nuclear island building is underway in July 2023.
As for the fourth unit, the work to protect the construction area from groundwater was completed in February 2023, and the work of excavating the nuclear island was completed and reaching the foundation level in April 2023. Construction permission for the fourth unit was obtained on August 30, 2023, and preparatory work is being carried out in preparation for the first concrete pour. For the fourth nuclear unit by the current year 2023.
Dr. Al-Wakil also touched on the construction work of the specialized sea pier to receive the equipment of the nuclear station in Dabaa. It was implemented in about two years of hard work, and the first equipment for the nuclear station was received through this pier in March 2023. This pier is among the global ports registered with the International Maritime Organization, and he noted. Al-Wakil noted that the manufacturing work for long-term equipment began in July 2021 with the manufacturing of the reactor core trap for the first nuclear unit, then the manufacturing of the reactor pressure vessel for the first nuclear unit in April 2022, and also the start of manufacturing the steam turbine for the first unit in June 2022, then the manufacturing of the core trap was The reactor for the second unit in June 2022, followed by the completion of the manufacture of the main part of the reactor core trap for the first nuclear unit and the completion of its technical inspections in Russia in October 2022. Then the manufacturing of the pressure stabilizer for the first and second units began in November 2022, and the manufacturing work for the equipment continues. Long-term, it witnessed the start of manufacturing steam generators for the first and second units in November 2022. At the same time, the start of manufacturing the reactor pressure vessel for the second unit, and in January 2023, the start of manufacturing the electricity generators for the first and second units, followed by the arrival of the main part of the reactor core trap for the first unit of the Dabaa station in March 2023, and in May 2023, the manufacturing of all parts of the reactor core trap for the first unit was completed, and the manufacturing of the pressure vessel parts for the first and second units is currently being completed.
Amjad Al-Wakil explained that the Dabaa nuclear power plant project has an important addition to the Egyptian national income, social entity and economic development, as every single job in the construction of the nuclear power plant contributes to the creation of 10 jobs in the relevant sectors and the employment of thousands of workers at all professional levels through the participation of what is not needed. Less than 6,000 people are involved in construction work for a period of 10 years for the four units, and about 1,000 people participate in operation and maintenance for each power unit over the 60-year operating life. This is in addition to the job opportunities provided by the station through complementary and auxiliary industries, as this is evident in creating a kind of boom. Commercialization of the areas surrounding the Dabaa station and the influx of labor and the use of labor from the people of Matrouh Governorate, in addition to creating an increase in the electrical energy generated to cover part of the high rates of annual increase in electrical energy (2000 - 3000 electrical megawatts annually), in addition to the fact that electricity production is from stations Nuclear power works to reduce the cost of the generated energy unit and thus bring about a relative decrease in electricity prices. In addition, the use of nuclear energy in producing electricity preserves the environment, which will lead to a reduction in the funds needed to clean the environment and preserve human health.
The project also added gains to the residents of the city of Dabaa and neighboring areas from the economic boom in the region and the development of infrastructure such as water, electricity, roads, communications, and health services such as ambulance services and the establishment of an advanced hospital. This is in addition to the establishment of centers to qualify technical workers to join work directly at the station, such as the Dabaa School, which represents 30%. Of its students, residents of Dabaa and 70% are from the rest of the governorates.
Amjad Al-Wakil confirms that the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity reduces greenhouse emissions, as the establishment of nuclear power plants in Europe contributed to avoiding the emission of about 700 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, and in Russia nuclear power plants contributed to avoiding the emission of 210 million tons annually. Of carbon dioxide gas, in Japan it saved emissions of 270 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, and in Egypt the nuclear plant can save about 15 million tons annually of carbon dioxide gas, and by looking at the carbon footprint we find that nuclear energy is among the lowest due to To the zero level of direct emissions resulting from the generation of electricity from nuclear energy, while the total carbon dioxide emissions released during the life cycle of a nuclear power plant are similar to those resulting from emissions from wind power plants, resulting in about 12 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt hour compared With other energies, it is close to wind energy. We find that solar energy emits about 2 to 4 times more than nuclear energy, while coal energy emits more than 70 times more than nuclear energy, and also petroleum, about 60 times more than nuclear energy, and natural gas about 30 times more than nuclear energy, and this confirms the importance of Using nuclear energy to reduce emissions and confront the effects of climate change.
Amjad Al-Wakeel added that Egypt is an ancient country with a history in the fields of nuclear technology, as Egypt was one of the first countries to realize, since the early 1950s, the importance of using nuclear energy and the enormous potential inherent in the atom, which can be utilized in order to provide the energy and water necessary to ensure sustainable development. In Egypt, in this way, the Atomic Energy Commission was established in 1955, then the Atomic Energy Corporation was established in 1957. Egypt was also one of the first founding countries to establish the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1957, laying the foundation on which its powers are based and supporting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in addition to establishing Department of Nuclear Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University in 1963. The nuclear sector in Egypt consists of 4 nuclear bodies representing the institutional structure of the nuclear sector: The Atomic Energy Authority, which is a research body with cumulative experience, was established in 1955, then was followed by the Nuclear Power Plants Authority, which is a body of a special nature. It is the authority responsible for establishing, operating and managing nuclear plants in Egypt and was established in 1976. The Nuclear Materials Authority is a research body that carries out its role in exploration, detection and mining activities for nuclear fuel ores and was established in 1977. Then the Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority carries out supervisory and regulatory tasks for nuclear security and safety and was established in 2012, and the existence of this The nuclear sector according to this system indicates that Egypt has the institutional structure and many human resources in this sector, and when dealing with how to select human resources in the Nuclear Power Plant Authority, this is done according to a set of tests that depend on competitiveness, as they vary between technical tests, the English language, and the computer. Personal traits and psychological measurements, then a confrontation test to differentiate between the best elements, security verification, and health fitness. These are stages that follow each other, as the applicant must pass the stage in order to be able to complete and enter the next stage. Then after appointment, the training takes place in the form of courses lasting 3 months, which are transformational courses under the name nuclear foundations course to raise the efficiency of human cadres, as well as training at the Egyptian Electricity Stations Holding Company to raise the efficiency of workers. These are internal courses. As for the operation and maintenance crews, batches are sent successively for training in the Russian Federation on operations, maintenance and management of nuclear plants, as the contract with the Russian company Rosatom includes training. More than 2,000 individuals in the operation, maintenance and management of reactors, according to the specified training schedule.
In addition to Egypt’s interest in cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency and benefiting from its expertise and programs, and in recognition of the importance of nuclear energy and its peaceful applications in achieving economic and social development, and through bilateral cooperation with some countries such as South Korea (12 researchers obtained master’s degrees in nuclear reactors and 15 specialists obtained courses Training in infrastructure management for nuclear station projects), Japan and the Russian Federation (three groups of 15 specialists were sent to the Russian Federation, each group 15 specialists, for training on nuclear technology and the management of nuclear fuel and spent fuel), in addition to the training programs that were implemented in agreement with the consultant (Worley), and therefore The development of human cadres is an important matter within the nuclear system, whether through training at home or abroad, and its result is always the creation of human cadres capable of carrying out tasks in accordance with international standards, whether in the areas of supervision, operation and implementation. Likewise, the establishment of the Advanced Technical School for Nuclear Energy Technology in the city of Dabaa and the duration of study in it is 5. Years after middle school, and in order to benefit from the expertise and experiences of countries that have nuclear plants, it was necessary to focus on teaching the English language to the students of that school so that the technician would not find a problem and to raise the scientific level. The Power Stations Authority contributes with its experts in teaching some subjects at the school. The Power Plants Authority also supports the educational process in the school and has praised The International Atomic Energy Agency, during the assessment of the station’s infrastructure, decided to establish that school (INIR) to advance the educational process and graduate a generation of human resources qualified for the labor market, so we do not face a shortage of human resources like some countries. The agent added that the Egyptian element is the operator, maintainer and developer of the nuclear station. With support from the Russian side for a period of 12 years, which is the first period for the start of the station’s operation, and that period includes two years before actual operation to ensure the stability of the work, as the operating crew is entirely Egyptian.
Dr. Amjad also referred to supply chains, explaining that the Crisis Committee within the Authority is to study any crisis and develop solutions to avoid it in the future, mitigate it, or turn the crisis into an opportunity. Therefore, we had the experience of the Russian-Ukrainian war, and we felt the difficulty of obtaining some of the needs to complete the station, so steps were put in place. To overcome the consequences, such as relying on Egyptian subcontractors, there are a number of Egyptian companies currently carrying out work on the site and other companies carrying out some of the necessary supply work for the project. We always recommend the necessity of the presence of local Egyptian companies in the nuclear project. We support all Egyptian companies and stand at the same distance from everyone, and this It supports achieving the targeted local participation rates according to the contracts concluded, where the local participation rate for the first and second units is at a rate of 20-25% and for the third and fourth units at a rate of at least 30-35%. These percentages are divided internally into a rate of 5% for surveying and design work, 35% for construction and installation work, and 35% for the supply of materials and 25% for the supply of equipment and components. A committee was also established for local participation with the Russian side to overcome obstacles to the entry of the Egyptian component. There is a website dedicated to registering companies that wish to work in the project, where the company registers its name and provides information about it and the projects it has previously implemented. Evaluation processes were carried out in cooperation with the Russian side for all participating Egyptian contractors, as the Russian general contractor is responsible for selecting subcontractors for the project. Introductory seminars were also held to attract and encourage local companies, and this is one of the goals of the project, which is to develop industries and help those companies advance their industry. The seminars were attended by more Of 150 Egyptian companies, and as a result of the Egyptian companies’ involvement in working on the project with foreign companies, they have concluded alliances and partnerships with foreign companies to create a kind of exchange and development of expertise, as we now have an Egyptian company participating in the work of the nuclear island. This is happening for the first time and this is due to the Russian side’s confidence in the egyptian companies.
The agent added that in July 2017, the Supreme Council for the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, headed by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, approved the Egyptian strategy for the management of radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel, and fuel consumption operations for nuclear plants. All competent nuclear bodies and relevant authorities participated in preparing this strategy, and the strategy aims to provide solutions. appropriate for dealing with radioactive waste and taking into account the preservation of human and environmental safety and for future generations not to bear additional burdens, taking into account the economic aspects and modern scientific trends. As for the Russian side, it was concluded through a contract to deal with spent fuel and a contract to establish warehouses for dry storage of spent nuclear fuel using... Special containers prepared to store fuel for a period of up to 100 years. Perhaps there will be technological developments that enable us to benefit from it one day. Then, after that period, it will be buried in the correct manner followed in all countries of the world. Also, through the main construction contract, units will be established to treat gaseous, liquid and solid radioactive waste.
Dr. Amjad stressed the importance of focusing on the media aspect to develop a picture of what is being implemented on the ground and the extent of the achievement achieved to refute rumors, as the Authority issues a periodic magazine every 3 months that includes the Authority’s activities, in addition to the Authority’s website, which is issued in three languages: Arabic, English, and Russian, and is a global window to respond to all questions. The questions are updated, and the media discourse also includes the preparation of artistic paragraphs in multiple forms, including the artistic form of the operetta, to crystallize the importance of the project in the mind of the citizen. Therefore, society was divided into several segments, starting with the local community, elites, industrialists, stakeholders, school and university students, workers in the nuclear sector, the ordinary public, and media professionals. These are slides. Tools have been developed to communicate with each category, including the actual steps of the building and construction stages, and videos have been made to document all activities and events.
Dr. Amjad also confirmed that the Egyptian state gives abundant attention and support to this national project from funding resources, as the political leadership and the Egyptian government continue to provide full support for the project, and there are continuous follow-ups from the Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, periodic follow-ups from the Prime Minister, and quarterly visits from the President of the Republic, which are factors that contribute to the success of the project and completion of the project.
The symposium focused on raising awareness of the importance of the nuclear plant, spreading awareness of the high safety rates of the Dabaa nuclear plant, engaging the media to spread the role of the nuclear plant in achieving energy security and reducing climate change, highlighting the importance of nuclear energy in achieving accuracy and the conditions of industry standards for quality specifications, focusing on Economic feasibility of nuclear plants.