El Dabaa: Installation of first unit's inner containment starts

13 March 2024

Work has begun on the first tier of the inner containment building for the first unit of the El Dabaa nuclear power plant in Egypt.

(Image: Rosatom)

El Dabaa will be Egypt's first nuclear power plant, and the first in Africa since South Africa's Koeberg was built nearly 40 years ago. The Rosatom-led project is about 320 kilometres north-west of Cairo and will comprise four VVER-1200 units, like those already in operation at the Leningrad and Novovoronezh nuclear power plants in Russia, and the Ostrovets plant in Belarus.

The first tier of the inner containment consists of 12 segments, each weighing between 60 and 80 tonnes. The first three of the segments were successfully installed by Rosatom's ASE engineering division on 8 March.

The inner containment is a cylindrical reinforced concrete structure, which will house the nuclear reactor and equipment of the primary circuit. It has a dome on top and, together with the outer containment structure, is a key element of the designed safety measures.

Mohammed Dwiddar, Project Manager of the El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant Project, said the start of installation work was "part of the continuous progress of the construction work being implemented ... through continuous cooperation between the Egyptian work team, represented by the Nuclear Power Plants Authority - the owner - and the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor. We look forward to the successful achievement of subsequent milestones scheduled to take place later this year".

Alexey Kononenko, ASE JSC's Director for the El Dabaa NPP construction project, said: "Commencement of the inner containment installation is one of the milestones scheduled in 2024 for the El Dabaa NPP construction project and clear evidence of the rapid progress of the construction works in our first nuclear power plant project in Africa. Implementation of these important works are a result of the coordinated teamwork between ASE and the Nulcear Power Plants Authority."

The El Dabaa nuclear power plant project is based on contracts that entered into force on 11 December 2017. The contracts stipulate that Rosatom will not only build the plant, but will also supply Russian nuclear fuel for its entire life cycle. It will also assist Egyptian partners in training personnel and plant maintenance for the first 10 years of its operation. Rosatom is also contracted to build a special storage facility and supply containers for storing used nuclear fuel.

All four units are now under construction at the site - first concrete for unit 1 was poured in July 2022, unit 2 in November 2022, unit 3 in May 2023 and unit 4 in January 2024. The aim is to have all four units in operation by 2031. Egypt's goal is for nuclear power to represent 9% of its electricity by 2030, which would be achieved through the commercial operation of the first two units by that time, directly displacing oil and gas.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News