The country’s first 1,000MW nuclear power plant is due to come on line in 2017/18 at El-Dabaa and a further four plants could follow in the next decade.

Cairo is planning to install a total of 5,000MW of nuclear capacity by 2027, with a 1,000MW plant being brought on line every two years from 2020/21.

Given the complexity of nuclear plants, the source says that whichever company is awarded the contract to build the first one is likely to be handed the subsequent contracts. “The 5,000MW has to use the same technology to minimise problems with fuel supply and spare parts,” says the source.

The nuclear scheme is part of wider plans by Cairo to install 46,500MW of power capacity to its network between 2013 and 2027. The Egyptian Electricity Holding Company’s expansion plan is based on a projected growth in demand of 5 per cent.

Under the plan, 5,980MW of power will come from wind energy and a 1,300MW steam power plant will begin operation in Ain el-Sokhna in 2012/13.

Thermal and combined-cycle power plants will account for a further 34,500MW of capacity.

Forecasts put the investment cost for the combined cycle power plants at close to $900 a kW. The cost of steam plants is estimated at $1,200 a kW, with nuclear power plants coming in as the most expensive option at $3,000 a kW (MEED 31:01:08).