On June 9, Cairo hosted a seminar that marked a rare discussion of
Egypt's nuclear energy program. The seminar took place amid plans by the
new military regime to accelerate the acquisition of up to 11 nuclear power
Unlike other government departments, the Electricity Ministry has
remained headed by the same minister and senior officials from the regime of
ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Earlier this month, an Egyptian newspaper
published a memorandum from a government nuclear employee who reported a
recent radiation leak from the Anshas nuclear reactor, located on the
outskirts of Cairo.
"The fact that the reactor was by mere chance not operated the next day
saved the area from environmental disaster," read the note to the Supreme
Council of the Armed Forces by Samir Mekheimar, a former director at the
Nuclear Research Center.
The June 9 seminar, which did not include government representatives,
did not focus on the Anshas leak. Instead, analysts said Egypt could
more power through solar energy than through a multi-billion-dollar nuclear
program. Speakers referred to the European Union, members of which were
abandoning nuclear reactors in wake of the recent disaster in Japan.
Ms. Mansour said Egypt should participate in an EU-supported program
designed to form a network of solar stations. Under the German-sponsored
effort, called Desertec, the Middle East would produce energy through solar
farms and supply the power to Europe as well.
"This was established to create solar power stations and wind farms for
power generation in the Middle East, supplying Europe with electricity
generated from the Middle East and transmitted through cables in the
Mediterranean," Ms. Mansour said.
Other speakers at the seminar, titled "The Future of Solar Energy in
Egypt," warned that a network of nuclear power stations would endanger the
country. They said nuclear energy would end up costing much more than solar
or wind power.
The analysts said Egypt could exploit winds that blow along the Gulf of
Suez to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity. Egypt's nuclear program
has envisioned the acquisition of 1,000 megawatt reactors.
Another proposal was that Egypt generate electricity from algae. Ms.
Suheir said Egypt had sufficient space and sea access to make this
Mussa Naji, another environmentalist, said Egypt marked one of the
richest countries in solar and wind energy potential. Naji told the seminar
that unlike nuclear power, Egypt could easily import technology for solar
and wind generators.
"There would be no difficulty to start training young people in
renewable energy technology," Naji said. "All we need is political will."