Turkey to begin first nuclear plant next spring

Taner Yildiz, Turkey’s minister for energy, has said construction will begin on the country’s first nuclear plant in March or April next year.

The power station, which will be sited in Akkuyu on southern Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, has received $1.4bn in funding from Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear engineer. Rosatom will build, own and operate the facility; the Turkish Electricity Trade and Contract Corporation has agreed a 15-year agreement to buy 70% of the power from the first two reactors built.

Rosatom may sell up to 49% of shares in the plant to third-party investors. 

Yildiz said: "We aim to build a nuclear research reactor, but for peaceful purposes. Turkey does not have an aim of building an atom bomb, nor nuclear enrichment. Developing Turkey must not have an undeveloped energy sector." 

He implied that the nuclear plant would be the beginning of a generation of nuclear reactors, and that these would be built by Turkish companies – an approach that may contravene EU public procurement rules if Turkey ever joins the union. He said: "We aim to form a team to build a nuclear power plant by domestic production and Turkish engineers. We want to build our nuclear power plants in the future with domestic resources – Turkish engineers and trained students." 

Yildiz added that an environmental impact statement for the plant will be completed next month.

Turkey is planning to build another nuclear plant at a cost of $22bn at Sinop, on its Black Sea coast. The government has awarded the construction contract to a consortium comprising Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Itochu Corporation of Japan and France’s GDF Suez.

This project is expected to be operational in 2023 and produce 35 billion kWh of electricity a year. It will have a life span of 60 years.

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