CAIRO: Egypt announced that it will launch a tender and begin receiving bids in February to build its first nuclear power station at a cost of over $1.5 billion, the MENA news agency reported Saturday.
Egypt has long announced its intention to build a nuclear reactor, insisting that it is for peaceful purposes only.
President Hosni Mubarak has said that “energy security is a basic element in building the future of the homeland and part and parcel of Egypt s national security system.
Electricity and Power Minister Hassan Younis announced earlier this month that Egypt would build its first nuclear reactor at Dabba, 160 km west of Alexandria. According to Younis, the site will host a 1,000 megawatt nuclear power station.
Nuclear scientist and professor of nuclear studies at Helwan University Abdel-Hakim Kandeel told Daily News Egypt that the government will receive bids because there are certain specifications they need for the nuclear plant.
“What kind of station will we build? This is a very important decision because there are many types of nuclear stations, many kinds of fuel to be used and many cooling [methods]. We have specifications that we want so who is going to deliver this to us? That is why we are receiving bids, he said.
Director of nuclear engineering at Alexandria University Abdel Mohsen Morsi Metwalli told MENA, “The type of reactor and its constructor will be chosen according to international safety standards and reputation as well as costs. The offer is open to all countries.
Kandeel said Dabba was the most suitable location for the nuclear plant for numerous reasons and had been the subject of an exhaustive study for over three decades.
He said, “Dabba is a locale not susceptible to earthquakes, there is little population around it and it is near the shore so you can desalinize water. There have also been environmental studies on the area which conclude it is the most suitable.
“In 12 years from now, we will need 63,000 megawatts of electricity and now we only have 21,000 megawatts. It’s a must for Egypt to have nuclear power, Kandeel added.
Egypt had initiated a nuclear program in the 1970s but disbanded it after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
General Coordinator for the Arab Environmental Network Mohammed Mahmoud previously told Daily News Egypt that other alternative renewable energy sources should be examined first before resorting to nuclear power.
“I am with the use of nuclear energy as long as there are the appropriate safety measures in place. The use of solar and wind energy should take precedence over nuclear energy. Renewable energies such as these are the hope, Mahmoud said.
If nuclear energy is safely harnessed, Mahmoud said, it can be used considering that we now face an energy crisis.
“One day we will have to resort to nuclear energy, it is inevitable.
Kandeel said, “It [nuclear power] is a must for many reasons, not just for our need for electricity in the future but also for [national] pride. It is for the people of Egypt to feel some kind of . loyalty to their country. This is very important.