Nuclear Newcomers Face Varying Hurdles

Nuclear ambitions fostered by some countries were tested by a variety of events at the end of 2015.

Work Continues on Turkey’s Russian-Built Akkuyu Plant. Reports that Russia has halted construction of Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear power plant, and that Ankara has begun looking for new contractors, are unfounded, officials from the Akkuyu Nuclear Co. said in early December. The reports came as Russia broadened sanctions against Turkey after that nation shot down a Russian warplane in November under disputed circumstances. On December 17, meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia’s decision to participate in the construction of the nuclear plant would be based purely on commercial considerations. “We will not take a single step that would damage our own economic interests,” he told reporters in an annual news conference in Russia.

Russia’s Rosatom Overseas—renamed Rosatom Energy International in December—is building the $22 billion project that is Turkey’s first nuclear plant. The plant will have four reactors (Figure 4) with a total capacity of 4.8 GW and a 60-year service life. When completed, it is expected to provide 17% of Turkey’s power needs.


4. Four of a kind. In May 2010, Russia and Turkey signed an agreement that a subsidiary of Rosatom would build, own, and operate a power plant at Akkuyu comprising four 1,200-MW VVER units. The first VVER-1200 pressurized water reactors are still under construction at the Novovoronezh II plant in Russia and expected to come online early in 2016. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Hullernuc

Indonesia Scraps Nuclear Plans. Indonesia in December scrapped an $8 billion plan to operate four nuclear plants with a total capacity of 6 GW by 2025.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said told reporters that the government was not persuaded that nuclear capacity was immediately necessary. “We still have many alternatives and we do not need to raise any controversies,” he said.

The decision was made public after the National Energy Council released its latest National Energy Plan in December. Last revised in 2006, the new plan will see a major boost in renewable power in lieu of nuclear power, increasing renewables’ share from 5% to 23% by 2025.

The new plan will see coal’s share also fall slightly from 33% to 30%. Significantly, the island nation plans to continue relying on oil, which will account for 25% of power within a decade, compared to a previous target of 20%. Natural gas will have a 22% share in 2025.

Vietnam Delays Nuclear Plant. Power-hungry Vietnam will slow down development of its first nuclear power plant in Ninh Thuan, planning to start construction in 2020 to ensure safety and efficiency. Hoang Anh Tuan, director general of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency, told attendees at a nuclear power seminar that the nuclear newcomer was facing many hurdles as it set out to build its first reactor, including lack of experience and a workforce shortage.

The country had planned to start building Russian AES-2006 reactors at least for the first two units of the four-unit plant in Ninh Thuan province in 2014, with operations anticipated in 2020. The country also picked a Japanese consortium to develop a second nuclear power plant at the site, though details of that deal are sparse. Russia is expected to finance at least 85% of the $8.9 billion Ninh Thuan 1 plant.