General construction work has begun at the Akkuyu nuclear power plant site in Turkey1. It is a positive sign that reactor construction will indeed commence in 2018 – putting Turkey on track to be the next new country to introduce nuclear energy into its mix after the UAE and Belarus. The most recent country to start up its first nuclear energy plant was Iran in 2011 and before that Romania in 1996, but an increasing number of newcomer countries are fully committing to their programmes.
“It is great to see Turkey’s nuclear energy ambitions finally mature” said Agneta Rising, Director General of the World Nuclear Association. Nuclear energy has been planned in the country for several decades but previous attempts to get projects underway proved unsuccessful. Rising continued, “Nuclear energy will help drive economic growth in the country and reduce reliance on imported gas”.
Turkey is by no means the only country making progress towards first-time nuclear plant construction. Other recent developments include plans by Poland to begin a reactor technology selection process in 20182, while Saudi Arabia is expected to launch a reactor tendering process within the next month3. Recent reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency4 and the World Nuclear Association5 highlight the general positive outlook for nuclear energy, despite facing challenging conditions in some deregulated markets where its climate and energy security advantages are not properly valued.
“More than 9 GWe of new nuclear capacity came online in 2016, the largest annual increase for over 25 years and global nuclear generation rose for the fourth successive year. The level of new build remains high, but the pace of new construction starts must accelerate if we are to successfully balance environmental goals with human development” – noted Rising, referring to the nuclear industry’s Harmony goal6 which requires 1000 GWe of new nuclear to be added between 2016 and 2050.
“The world is quickly adding to the number of countries building nuclear plants for the first time. They are investing in diversity and resilience for their energy systems. Nuclear plants are reliable machines, capable of operating over 90% of the time, through every season and in every climate”, said Rising.