Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom has been granted a construction license by the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority for the first unit of the El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant project in El Dabaa city on the Mediterranean coast, 184 miles northwest of Cairo.

The country's first nuclear power plant, it is expected to cost approximately $30 billion with capacity of 4.8 GW, enabling Egypt to diversify its power sources and improve reliability of the national power supply system, says the agency.

“Construction launch at the El Dabaa NPP Unit 1 means that Egypt has joined the nuclear club and Rosatom will build cutting-edge power units of VVER-1200 design,” said Alexey Likhachev, Rosatom director general, when the permit was granted on July 20. “We have gained experience constructing and operating nuclear power plants with such reactors both in Russia and abroad and the construction of the nuclear power plant will allow Egypt to reach a new level of technology, industry and education development.”

Rosatom, which has a strong footprint in the global reactor and nuclear fuel market, would have its affiliates implement the three-phase power plant project. These include Atomstroyexport, which will provide general engineering, procurement, and construction services; TVEL, which will supply nuclear fuel; NFCL, which will treat spent nuclear fuel; and Rosatom Service, which has been picked as preferred operation and maintenance services provider.

The first major project subcontract was announced Aug. 25 with a $2.25-billion contract awarded to South Korea's state-owned Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power for the turbines. The company will provide turbine components and construct turbine buildings at the project site.

Representatives of the South Korean government told the Associated Press that the deal does not run afoul of ongoing international sanctions against Russia related to the invasion of Ukraine.

For the plant, Russia agreed to provide a state export loan of $25 billion, equivalent to 85% of the total project cost, while Egypt, through a public-private partnership initiative, would finance the remaining 15%. Egypt is expected to begin repaying the Russian loan at an annual rate of 3% in October 2029.

The authority is also expected to issue a permit for preoperational tests to Rosatom, which has seen much of its international work continue despite sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other nations on Russian state-owned firms. Permits will be in place until the preliminary handover of the completed plant unit and issuance of an 11-month operation license.

The plant will have a design life of 60 years. Plans call for installation of four 1,200-MWe pressurized water reactor units, each using the Russian VVER-1200 (AES-2006) design. The authority has said previously that these “are the most common reactor type worldwide.”

Egypt, which currently has a total installed power capacity of 55 GW, added 28,229 MW to the national grid between December 2015 and December 2018—with plans to increase the share of clean energy supply to 20% by 2022 and 42% by 2035.