The implementation of the El-Dabaa NPP will bring to success the multi-year efforts of Egypt to introduce nuclear power in the country. The plans for Construction of the El-Dabaa NPP date back to the late 1970s with the start of the site selection process.
The El-Dabaa NPP Project envisages construction of four units with pressurized water reactors of 1200 MWe power each using the Russian VVER-1200 (AES-2006) design at the El-Dabaa site. The design selected for El-Dabaa NPP belongs to the group of Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR), which are the most common reactor type worldwide.
The El-Dabaa Site is located along the Northern West Coast of Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea. The Project Owner for the El-Dabaa NPP Project is the Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) of Egypt and the Main Contractors are ROSATOM subsidiary companies, which will provide Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) services, nuclear fuel supply, operation support and maintenance, and spent nuclear fuel treatment.
Safety & Reliability of the nuclear reactor design had the top priority in the process of selecting the nuclear technology provider for El-Dabaa NPP.
The design selected for El-Dabaa NPP belongs to the latest Generation 3 + Nuclear Reactors, which is fully compliant with all post-Fukushima International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requirements.
The El-Dabaa NPP Project will be implemented in three main stages. The ongoing first stage, which started in December 2017, covers a period of approximately two and a half years and is aimed at preparing the NPP construction.
The second stage, which starts after obtaining the construction permit, covers the construction process and comprises all works related to construction, installation, training and preparations to commence the operational tests.
The last stage covers the commissioning and testing activities, which take place after obtaining the permit for pre-operational tests and last until preliminary handover of the unit and issuance of the operation license.
The progress of the El-Dabaa NPP is linked directly with the Licensing process that is aimed to ensure the plant safety through application of legal instruments. This process will result in granting the required licenses and permits for the NPP siting, design, construction, commissioning and operation.
The Project also will enable the involvement of several dozens of Egyptian companies in the construction process. The first unit is expected to have a localization level of at least 20%, while subsequent units are expected to be even more localized.
The El-Dabaa Site comprises an area located along the Northern West Coast of Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea. The El-Dabaa Site was originally selected in 1983 as preferred candidate site among several examined potential sites on the various Egyptian coastlines (Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Suez and Red Sea). Since then, the Site has been subject of detailed studies for more than 40 years from various aspects – geological, geophysical, hydrological, seismological, topographical, demographical, meteorological, geotechnical, infrastructural, etc. The investigation proved that El-Dabaa’s characteristics to be the most suitable for developing a NPP. This has been confirmed by the various expert missions and workshops conducted in the period 1985 – 2007 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), aimed to assist NPPA in reviewing the El-Dabaa Site safety issues.
In 2017, the NPPA submitted Site Evaluation Report (SER) and Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) to the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA) as part of the Application for Site Approval Permit.
In early March 2019, the NPPA received from ENRRA the Site Approval Permit (SAP) for the El-Dabaa site, issued as a conclusion of a detailed comprehensive review of the documents with the Application for Site Approval. The Site approval issued by the ENNRA is an acknowledgement that the El-Dabaa site is assessed as safe and suitable for placement of an NPP in compliance with the current Egyptian requirements and international regulatory safety standards.
Obtaining the Site Approval Permit constitutes the completion of the first step in the El-Dabaa NPP licensing process.
Safety of the nuclear power reactor design had the top priority for NPPA in the process of selecting the nuclear technology provider for El-Dabaa NPP.
The design selected for El-Dabaa NPP belongs to the latest Generation 3 + Nuclear Reactors, which is fully compliant with all post-Fukushima IAEA requirements.
The safe and reliable operation of El-Dabaa NPP with minimum impact on the environment under any condition is ensured through the following design features:
• Improved safety systems
• Increased use of passive safety systems
• A double containment structure for prevention of radioactivity release into the environment.
Generation 3+ Nuclear Reactors:
The latest Generation 3+ nuclear reactors are characterized by the following specific features:
• Evolutionary improvements in design resulting from the experience from design and operation of Generations 2 and 3 NPPs;
• Improved fuel technology with extended refueling intervals and higher efficiency resulting in reduced amount of generated radioactive waste;
• Superior thermal efficiency;
• Standardized design to expedite licensing and reduce construction time;
• Passive safety systems and improved design provisions against external and internal hazards with due consideration of the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident; and
• Increased reliability and longer operational lifetime, typically 60 years.
Construction of any nuclear capacity is a complicated process. The legal instruments used to control this process and ensure safety throughout the nuclear power plant (NPP) lifetime are the licenses and permits issued by regulatory authorities. These documents grant authorization to perform specific activities related to the NPP siting, design, construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning.
The licensing process should be consistent with a great number of normative requirements, which describe the conditions and rules specified by the regulatory authorities.
The licensing process, aimed at obtaining the necessary permits, orders and licenses for an NPP usually encompasses:
1. Nuclear Licensing:
The licensing process related to the nuclear installations in Egypt is stated in the Law on Regulation of Nuclear and Radiation Activities promulgated by Law No. 7 of the year 2010, as amended by Law No. 211 of the year 2017 and the Executive Regulations implementing the Law.
As the Owner, Licensee and future Operator of the El-Dabaa NPP, the NPPA has the prime responsibility for safety. It is accordingly responsible to apply for all licenses and permits to the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA).
ENRRA is the Regulatory Body in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection in the Arab Republic of Egypt (ARE) having legal authority to conduct the regulatory process, including issuing authorizations (licenses and permits). ENRRA undertakes all the regulatory and control functions related to the implementation of the El-Dabaa NPP aimed to ensure the safety of humans, property and the environment against the risks of exposure to ionized radiations.
The main steps of the licensing process for the El-Dabaa NPP, expected durations and related documents are shown below. The duration of the steps is tentative. The actual duration of the process will depend on the quality of the document provided to the regulatory authorities and number of associated review cycles.
2. Non-Nuclear Licensee and Permits:
All other permits and approvals to be issued by the competent authorities other than ENRRA. It covers both structures with temporary function, which shall serve during the construction period, and facilities and processes with permanent function to be used during plant operation.
The non-nuclear licensing covers the licensing and permitting activities and conditions, which the licensee shall take into account at all phases of El-Dabaa NPP Project implementation for the identified El-Dabaa NPP project outlier structures, facilities and processes, located outside the NPP protected area.
The implementation of the El-Dabaa NPP within the foreseen timeline and with the due safety and quality requires a strict time management, planning, schedule monitoring and corrective action implementation, as and when such steps are necessary.
The schedule for implementation of the El-Dabaa NPP covers a period of 13 years. The Site Selection approval Permit has been issued in March 2019. Currently, NPPA is working to get the Construction Permit for the first unit.