Energy Conversion and Management 51 (2010) 1813–1817
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Nuclear electricity for sustainable development: Egypt a case study M.N.H. Comsan Projects and Consultation Unit, Afaq Scientiﬁc, 12 Qurash St., 6th Zone, Nasr City, Cairo 11371, Egypt
a r t i c l e
i n f o
Article history: Available online 17 March 2010 Keywords: Fossil fuel Hydropower Renewable energy Coal generation Nuclear energy Sustainable development
a b s t r a c t Egypt is a fast growing country with 78.9 million population and annual per capita installed power 0.286 MW as of July 2008. Moderate to mature population and economic growth trends forecast population and annual per capita installed power to reach 111 millions and 0.63 MW, respectively by 2032; and 128 millions at per capita power of 1.02 MW by 2052. With these trends in consideration installed electricity generation capacity are forecasted at 70 GW by 2032 and 132 GW by 2052 as compared to the 2008 installed power of 22.6 GW. Meeting these demands is almost impossible using known limited national fossil fuel reserves. Current electricity generation policy exhausts about 65% of country’s total fossil production. Crude oil reserves are expected to deplete by 2012, while gas reserves will be overstrained starting from 2030. A major policy shift towards the use of non-fossil resources is to be adopted. In the article Egypt’s major primary energy resources are evaluated. Electricity generation plans till 2022 are presented and an electricity generation strategy based on gradual introduction of nuclear power starting from 2018 is outlined. A balanced generation mix based on 72.7% fossil, 13% nuclear and 14.3% renewables is targeted by 2052. The mix is supposed to meet Egypt’s electricity needs by 2052 and to improve country’s energy sustainability. Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
2. Egypt energy proﬁle
Energy is a major drive of modern economic development. With the increase of world population, more energy is required to satisfy rising human needs to maintain welfare. Improving of living standards and prolongation of human life itself depends, in the average, on the energy consumption per person. Moreover the demand for energy grows as more developing counties enter industrial and service stages of their development. In Egypt, as everywhere, energy plays a substantial role in country’s economic development contributing to macroeconomic variables as gross domestic product (GDP), commodity exports and investments. On the other hand, Egypt as a developing fast growing country suffers from rapid annual population growth currently at a rate of 1.68%. As of July 2008, the population of Egypt was estimated as 78.9 millions . According to the Cairo Demographic Centre, Egypt’s population is expected to reach 110 millions by 2031 and 128 millions by 2051 . Such a fast population growth along with other environmental challenges is overstraining the limited energy resources of the country. As is clear from Table 1, a carefully tailored energy policy is to be implemented to attain sustainable development.
Primary sources of energy in Egypt include crude oil and natural gas, hydropower, in addition to the new and renewable energy represented in the solar and wind energy. The state had adopted plans to establish electronuclear stations that produce electricity through nuclear means [3,4].
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2.1. Crude oil and natural gas Crude oil reserves in Egypt mainly concentrate in the Gulf of Suez, the Sinai Peninsula and the Western Desert. Egypt’s crude oil reserves stood at 3.7 billion barrels in 2007. Oil production in million barrels per day (Mb/d) was 0.61 in 1980, peaked at 0.93 in 1996, and has since been in decline reaching 0.66 in 2007. Production is expected to drop to 0.6 Mb/d in 2010 and to 0.5 Mb/d by 2030. In contrary, domestic demand for oil has been in steady increase from 0.26 Mb/d in 1980 to 0.65 Mb/d in 2007. With closing the gap between production and consumption, Egypt is expected to become a net oil importer in the very near future, even with the new discoveries. Most recent estimates ﬁgures net oil imports to reach 0.51 Mb/d by 2030 . Natural gas reserves lie mainly in the Nile Delta, north of Western Desert and the Mediterranean. With natural gas (NG) the picture looks different. NG is distincted to become a major primary energy resource in Egypt’s energy proﬁle. A steady increase has
M.N.H. Comsan / Energy Conversion and Management 51 (2010) 1813–1817
Table 1 Egypt’s population and electric power indicators (2007–2052).
Population (million) Per capita installed power (MW/c) Total installed power (GW) Installed power annual growth rate (%)
78.3 0.28 21.9 4.4
85.2 0.34 29.0 5.8
92.1 0.41 37.8 5.4
98.8 0.48 47.1 4.5
105.1 0.55 57.7 4.0
111.1 0.63 70.0 4.0
116.5 0.72 84.0 3.7
121.2 0.82 100 3.5
125.3 0.92 115 2.8
128.5 1.02 132 2.7
been observed during the period 1980–1999 rising from 0.03 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 1980 to 0.52 Tcf in 1999. A sharp increase in production took place during the period 1999–2006 due to extensive exploration activities with NG production at the level 1.86 Tcf in 2006. Production in 2007 stood at 7.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) from 1.6 Bcf/d in 1991. Recent analysis estimates proven NG reserves at 66 Tcf, and probable – at 120–140 Tcf. Local NG consumption during 2006 accounted for 68% of production. Major consumers were the thermal power plants accounting for 65% of the total gas consumption . Large industrial consumers have also been switching to gas including petrochemical, steel and fertilizer plants . Table 2 summarizes data available on Egypt’s oil/gas balance during the period 1997–2007. 2.2. Hydropower Hydropower converts the energy of ﬂowing water into electricity. It beneﬁts from the potential energy difference between water levels before and after dams and barrages on River Nile and its branches and canals in driving turbines that generate electricity. Most of the available hydropower energy resources were exploited with the construction of plants at the Aswan Dam in 1960 and 1985, the Aswan High Dam in 1967, Isna Barrages in 1995, and Nag-Hammady barrages in 2008. Hydropower stations with installed capacity 615, 2100, 90 and 64 MW, respectively were installed and operated during the period 1961–2008. Now under construction is the Assuit Barrages and power station 40 MW expected to operate in 2009. Potential hydropower resources exist using other smaller barrages with total power 36 MW . This puts an upper bound of 2.945 GW for Egypt’s hydropower resources. Table 3 summarizes status of hydropower electricity generating plants in Egypt. 2.3. Renewable energy Promising renewable energy (RE) resources in Egypt include wind, solar and biomass with interest in applications going back to 1970. In early 1980s, a renewable energy strategy was formulated as an integral part of the national energy planning. The strategy has been revised in view of the projections for possible RE technologies/application options, available ﬁnancing resources and investment opportunities. In 1986 New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) was established to act as the national focal point for expanding efforts to develop and introduce RE technologies to
Egypt. In April 2007, the Supreme Council for Energy adopted an ambitious plan which aims at covering 20% of the country’s total electricity needs using RE by 2027 . The plan opens the door for the private sector to play an active role in developing new and RE resources. The Egyptian electricity sector recently is drafting a new electricity act to encourage renewable energy utilization and private sector involvement in the process. According to new 2009 statistics of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MoEE), MoEE targets to satisfy 11.26% of the electric energy generation from RE sources (basically wind) by the year 2027 .
2.3.1. Wind energy Coastal zones in Egypt enjoy high wind energy potential particularly at the Suez Canal and Red Sea coast. In 1988, a local wind farm with a capacity 400 kW was erected in Ras Ghareb. During the period 1992–1995 a pilot wind farm with total power 5.2 MW was erected in Hurgada, connected to the local city grid in 1993 and to the national electricity grid in 1998. A large scale wind farm started operation in 2000 with power 63 MW, connected to the national grid in 2001 and increased its power to 305 MW in 2007. A wind atlas for the Suez Canal – Red Sea zone and Egypt was issued in 2005 based on data collected during the period 1991–2001. The atlas shows the locations of most favorable areas for wind power generation. Favorable wind speeds of 9– 11 m/s (at 50 m height) of sufﬁcient strength and stability exist at Abu-Darag, Zaafarana, Ras Ghareb and El-Zeit Gulf. According
Table 3 Hydropower electricity generating plants in Egypt. Year
Installed power (MW)
1926 1960 1967 1985 1995 2008 2009 Feasibility Feasibility Feasibility Feasibility
5.8 (abandoned) 345 2100 270 90 64 40 20 10 3.5 2.5
Several mini plants in Fayoum Oasis Aswan-I Aswan High Dam Aswan-II Esna Nag-Hammadi Assiut Damietta branch Rosetta branch Zefta Tawﬁki head regulator
Table 2 Egypt’s oil/gas balance. 1997
Oil Production (103 barrels/d) Consumption (103 barrels/d) Proved reserves (billion barrels)
856 531 3.70
852 563 3.50
720 544 2.95
712 561 3.70
658 604 3.70
637 680 3.70
Natural gas Production (B cubic feet) Consumption (B cubic feet) Proved reserves (T cubic feet)
477 477 20.36
518 518 31.50
867 867 35.18
1058 1046 58.5
1501 1208 58.5
7.5/d 6.1 66.0
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to estimates, the total power that could be generated using wind farms along the Red Sea coast approximates 20 GW [11–13]. 2.3.2. Solar energy Egypt is in advantageous position with solar energy. It belongs to the global sun-belt. In 1991 solar atlas for Egypt was issued indicating that the country enjoys 2900–3200 h of sunshine annually with annual direct normal energy density 1970–3200 kW h/m2 and technical solar thermal electricity generating potential of 73.6 Petawatt-hour (PW h) . Egypt was among the ﬁrst countries to utilize solar energy. In 1910, American engineer F. Schuman built a practical industrial scale solar system engine at Maadi south to Cairo using solar thermal parabolic collectors. The engine was used to produce steam which drove a series of large water pumps for irrigation . Nowadays utilization of solar energy includes use of photovoltaic cells, solar water heating and solar thermal power. According to NREA photovoltaic technologies are in use in water pumping for irrigation in newly reclamated lands, in telecommunication posts, in rural electriﬁcation, refrigeration, etc. It is estimated that present Egypt’s PV systems installed capacity is close to 5 MW peak. Solar water heating is currently used in residential commercial and tourist hotel buildings, especially those located in touristy resorts in Sinai, along the Red Sea coast and Egypt’s North Coast (South Mediterranean coast). Estimates on the current installed capacity for solar water heating is around 300 MW, while the potential capacity could easily exceed 1 GW. Use of solar thermal technology includes both electricity generation and water desalination. As an estimate with solar power parameters for Egypt, a 1 km2 of desert equipped with modern trough or Fresnel ﬂat mirror technology can produce 300 GW h/ year of solar electricity and 13 million m3 of puriﬁed water. Water desalination is especially important taking in consideration Egypt’s dependence on River Nile and existing shortage of water supplies [15,16]. Table 4 gives installed capacity of RE in Egypt (MW) for the period 2002–2008. 2.4. Egypt electricity generation proﬁle Egypt development plans include projects of land reclamation, food production, industrialization and community development. Demand on electricity as suitable form of transferable energy has dramatically increased during the past decades and required ever increase generation. Total generated electricity in terawatt hour (TW h) increased from 41.4 in 1990 to 125.1 in 2008 at an average annual growth rate 6.34% over the period. Installed power in GW increased from 10.3 in 1990 to 22.6 in 2008 at an annual rate of 4.61%, while peak load in GW has increased from 7.21 in 1990 to 19.7 in 2008. Electricity generation mix (%) in 2008 was 86.07 for gas and oil, 12.58 for hydropower and 1.35 for wind power . As a result of state policy promoting the use of natural gas to replace oil products, usage of natural gas as a main fuel reached 79.3% of total fuel consumption. Starting from 2005 most new generating plants were of the combined cycle (gas/steam) type of standard design having two 250 MW gas turbines followed by a single 250 MW steam turbine. Such a design increases plant fuel
Table 4 Installed capacity of renewable electricity in Egypt (MW). Year Wind installed capacity Total Grid connected solar
2005 – 145 –
efﬁciency to 57%. Demand for electrical energy increase to reach an estimated target of 220 TW h by 2027 requires investment of $ 42 billion till 2027 putting a heavy burden on the currently state-owned electricity sector. Adopting power deregulation policy may stimulate private sector ﬁnancing to play an important role. 3. Nuclear power Nuclear power generation provides 7% of world total energy supply and 14.7% of generated electricity. This indicates the signiﬁcant role nuclear energy plays as compared to conventional means. Signiﬁcant rise in nuclear electricity took place during the period 1979–1986 with slowdown noticed after the Three-Mile Island accident in 1979 in USA and the Chernobyl accident in 1986 in the Soviet Union. With improvements in safety tools and culture, increase of plant availability and economy, nuclear power plants became increasingly competitive with other means of electricity generation. Now worldwide operate 436 nuclear power reactors generating 370 GW of electricity. The United States of America is the largest provider of nuclear power totaling 98 GWe from 103 reactors representing 20% of US electricity generation. In Africa only South African Republic has two operating power reactors providing 1.8 GWe. In the Middle-East, only one NPP with design 1 GWe is under operational test in The Islamic Republic of Iran and expected to become full operational by September 2009 [17– 20]. In spite of the large diversity of nuclear power reactor designs, only two types dominate commercial nuclear energy generation. 84.9% of operating commercial power reactors are of the light water type (including the Russian RBMK). Of these reactors 283 belong to the pressurized water type (PWR) while 92 are of the boiling water type. Both use uranium of slightly enriched to 3–5% in uranium-235 as fuel. Contrary to oil and gas reserves which are considered depleting resources, nuclear fuel has extended life time. With appropriate nuclear fuel cycle technology, the life time of nuclear fuel may extend to several thousands of years. According to current estimates the life extension of crude oil is estimated at 130–150 years, of gas – at 210–250 years and of coal and lignite – at 350–450 years. Nuclear fuel are much more abundant, both for ﬁssion (uranium and thorium) and fusion (deuterium). Moreover, nuclear power is characterized by its good safety record accounting for only one accident with death casualties (Chernobyl) during more than 12,700 reactor-years of operation . 4. Coal generation Coal is the world’s most abundant fossil fuel. Total world identiﬁed coal reserves as of 2003 are estimated to be roughly 850 billion metric tons. Worldwide consumption of coal is estimated to be 5 billion metric tons a year. Such reserves may sufﬁce for about 125 years at current consumption levels (based on IEO2006 reference case, and assuming a 2.0% growth rate after 2030). On the other hand unidentiﬁed coal resources are projected to last about 900 years. According to US Energy Information Administration (2003) coal consumption worldwide will nearly double by 2030. In the same period, coal’s share of world electricity generation is likely to grow from 40.5% at 2004 to 44.5% at 2030 . Use of coal for electricity generation however is severely opposed by environmental organizations. Environmental challenges connected with coal burning limits its widespread acceptance as attracting electricity generation option. A big drawback of coal-ﬁred plants is that they are generally unsightly and polluting. In addition, unless they incorporate costly technology to capture carbon dioxide for underground storage, they vent
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more green-house gas emissions to the atmosphere than any other means of producing electricity . Egypt is short of coal reserves. The only mine is that of Al-Mahgara on the Sinai Peninsula. Estimated reserves stand at 40 million short tons (Mst). The mine had been scheduled to reach full capacity in 1999 with an annual production goal of 0.7 Mst. Coal mined in Egypt goes mainly to heat homes in rural areas. Egypt imports metallurgical coal from various countries including China, Russia and the United States. In 2007 Egypt’s coal production was 0.026 Mst while consumption stood at 1.246 Mst. Although recent trends seem to decarbonize electricity generation, use of coal as primary energy resource cannot be ruled out in future. Research and development are underway world wide for more environment friendly coal generation technologies. Hence and in view of current trends in world fossil reserves, it may be a wise policy to consider using coal as part of Egypt’s electricity generating mix. Coal is used in power generation in countries in the region as Turkey (23% of 40.8 GW, 2004) and Israel (46.2% of 10.5 GW, 2006). Even oil rich Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, Oman and United Arab Emirates have also been assessing coal-ﬁred power generation to address the increasingly severe electricity shortages afﬂicting every GCC country except Qatar .
5. Electricity generation plans Egypt’s average electricity supply growth rate was 6.34% during the period 1990–2008 totaling 22.6 in 2007/2008 ﬁnancial year. New (2009) MoEE electricity generation plans are expecting the same tendency to continue for the coming 20 years . To cope with the increase in electricity demand, plans till 2027 envisage the deployment of wind, solar and nuclear power. In case of wind energy, plans include the increase of installed capacity of Zaafarana Wind Farm to 405 MW by 2012 and to 600 MW by 2017. Moreover, within the electricity sector deregulation policy initiated in 1995, independent power producers (private sector) are planning to generate 200 MW wind energy by 2022 at the Ras Banas site on the Red Sea coast with wind energy density 1000 kW/m2 and at the East-of-Oweinat site to the southwest of Aswan with 400 kW/m2 energy density. Estimations based on current trends forecast total installed wind power to reach 2.3 GW by 2027 . With solar electricity generation, an Integrated Solar-Combine Cycle System (ISCCS) is under construction at the Kuraymat site 92 km south to Cairo which incorporates also several operational and under construction conventional units. The ISCCS system uses parabolic trough solar technology in combination with a conventional combined cycle gas turbine. The hot exhaust of the gas turbine along with solar heat is used to produce steam that drives a steam turbine. The plant design capacity is 150 MW of which 20 MW comes from solar energy. Plant’s total net electricity generation is expected to be 852 GW h/y of which the solar share will be 34 GW h/y accounting for only 4% of the total annual electricity generation The Kuryamat ISCCS plant is considered as a ﬁrst of a series of hybrid solar fossil fuel power plants targeting to install additional 500 MW capacity by 2017 and other 900 MW by 2027 . Up to this it is worthwhile to underline the efforts of the electricity sector to improve energy efﬁciency, reduce losses during transmission to end users and satisfy environmental goals towards reducing carbon dioxide, NOX and SOX emissions . Aiming at securing its energy demand on continuous bases, Egypt electricity generation plans considers the addition of ﬁve nuclear power plants using 1 GWe each by the years 2016–2027 . Some of these reactors are to be situated at the El-Dabaa site on the Mediterranean Sea coast 160 km west to Alexandria. The site was
chosen based on extensive site characterization and evaluation studies during the period 1976–1986 according to International Atomic Energy standards and procedures. MoEE electricity generation plans in GW for 2007–2027 are summarized in Table 5.
6. Electricity generation scenarios Egypt’s policy is to diversify sources of electricity generation taking in consideration the near depletion of national crude oil resources and increasing pressure on gas resources. Recent studies expect country-wide primary energy shortage as early as 2020. Egypt’s installed generating capacity in GW stood at 22.6 in 2008, likely to grow to 37.8 at 2017 and to 47.1 at 2022. An extended forecast taking in consideration moderate-to-mature economical and population growth yields, for the installed power in GW, 70 by 2032, 115 by 2042 and 132 by 2052. Near plans of electricity sector till 2027 envisage use of renewable energies namely wind and solar besides the deployment of nuclear power. Reliance on gas reserves is questioned as consumption is expected to continue to rise by 115% from 2012 due to oil depletion. Gas production is expected to be 12 Bcf/d in 2012 and to reach 19 Bcf/d in 2017 to meet local consumption and export needs. Based on these ﬁgures, it is expected that the known reserves of 66 Tcf will deplete by 2022. Although probable gas reserves (120–140 Tcf) can ﬁll the gap till 2042, it is hardly believed that this can continue further. Hence a new electricity generation strategy is to be adopted aiming to stop bleeding of depleting natural fuel resources . To our opinion this strategy should rely on a balanced mix of gas, coal, nuclear and renewable resources. As generator base load electricity, only nuclear power can compete with hydrocarbon burning. Nuclear generating electricity does not depend either on wind and climate variability, or on sun shine, rains and clouds. A commercial nuclear power plant can operate continuously day and night as reliable non-stop source of base load electricity having thermal to electric conversion efﬁciency 32% and availability 85–90% for plant life time of 40– 60 years. Nuclear power suffers from high initial capital cost accounting for 60% of total cost and hidden terminal cost (due to radioactive decontamination and ﬁnal storage). In spite of this, nuclear power is competitive as compared to other base load electricity generators. According to recent cost indicators, per unit costs of electricity generation (US cent/kW h) are: 3–6 for hydropower, 4–6 for coal, 5–7 for natural gas, 5–7 for nuclear, 6–8 for oil, 5–17 for wind and 15–32 for solar. One advantage of nuclear power generation is its low fuel cost share averaging at 20% as compared to 67% characteristic for fossil fuel plants making nuclear fuel less sensitive to fuel price ﬂuctuations [27,28]. Other advantage is that it is almost free of green-house gases emission, especially CO2, making it an environmentally attractive option for electricity generation. Based on the above discussion, to attain sustainability, it is suggested that long term plans for electricity generation in Egypt starting from 2017 should rely mainly on gas and nuclear options with ever increasing share of the later. Coal electricity generation option may be considered starting from 2027 as backup for the depleting gas resources. A realistic nuclear generation scenario– taking in consideration Egypt’s moderate economic and technology developments – is presented in Table 6. Accordingly by 2052, the nuclear generation option would total 17.2 GW from 13 nuclear power reactors grouped at three sites: two on the Mediterranean coast and one on the Red Sea cost. The nuclear power share would constitute 13.0% of the total installed power at that time with oil/ gas/coal share of 72.7% and renewables of 14.3%.
M.N.H. Comsan / Energy Conversion and Management 51 (2010) 1813–1817 Table 5 MoEE electricity generation plans (GW). 2007
Thermal Hydro Wind Solar/thermal Nuclear
18.936 2.783 0.225 – –
6.550 0.064 1.600 0.140
11.900 0.032 2.980 – 1.000
10.450 – 2.500 – 2.000
13.000 – 0.500 – 2.000
60.836 2.879 7.805 0.140 5.000
79.358 3.755 10.181 0.183 6.522
Table 6 Nuclear generation scenario. PWR
Total (units) 6 7
Total power (GWe) 6.0 11.2
Table 7 Electricity generation scenario. 2007
Thermal Hydro Wind Solar Nuclear
18.936 2.783 0.225 – –
10.788 0.092 2.600 0.420 2.000
10.828 0.032 3.600 0.840 4.600
17.160 – 2.500 0.840 5.800
38.310 0.030 3.600 1.260 4.800
Table 7 summarizes the evolution of the proposed electricity generation scenario during the period 2017–2052. 7. Conclusion Analysis and forecast of Egypt’s energy resources and needs till 2050 shows the inability to depend on national oil and gas reserves for electricity generation that meets estimated targets at that time. Efﬁcient utilization of energy resources regarding consumption, production and exports/imports requires a major policy shift towards the use of non-fossil techniques for electricity generation. Although wind and solar power can be used efﬁciently on local scales, yet constraints characteristic of large scale utilization of these renewables show they cannot be used for large scale continuous base load electricity. Resources of hydropower are expected to be utilized completely by 2022. Hence an electricity generation strategy based on gas/coal and nuclear options is suggested. The strategy is based on gradual introduction of nuclear power starting from 2018 and of coal-ﬁred plants from 2032. A nuclear share of 13% of installed power is targeted by 2052. The suggested mix is based on careful choice of fossil, nuclear, hydro, wind and solar power and is believed to be most appropriate to meet Egypt’s energy demand till 2052. References  Population in Egypt. National population conference, Cairo, Egypt; June 2008.  Goujan A, Alkitkat H, Lutz W, Prommer I. Population and human capital growth in Egypt projections to 2051. Presented at the workshop on population, human capital and water in Egypt, Cairo; March 2007.  Future of energy. Presented at the fourth annual national democratic party congress, Cairo, September 2005. Egypt State Information System (SIS); 2005.  President’s declaration on 22 September 2006. Egypt SIS and mass media; 2006.  Country analysis briefs Egypt. US Energy Information Administration (EIA); August 2009.
Total (GWe) 96.022 2.937 12.525 3.360 17.200 132.044
Total (%) 72.720 2.224 9.485 2.545 13.026 100
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