Rosatom Still Committed to 2023 Startup for Turkey’s First Nuclear Plant

Rosatom in a March 21 statement said changes to the ownership group involved with Turkey’s first nuclear power plant should not further delay construction of the facility, which has struggled with setbacks since the Russian nuclear corporation was awarded the construction contract in 2010.

The Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (Figure 1) is a planned 4,800-MW facility on the country’s southern coast. Turkey’s president, Tayyip Erdogan, on March 20 said construction would begin this year, and while speaking at an energy conference in Ankara this week said Russian President Vladimir Putin would join him at an inauguration ceremony “very soon.”

“We are commencing the construction process of the Akkuyu power plant this year. We plan to lay the foundation for the plant with Putin,” Erdogan said.

1. Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.
This is a rendering of the 4,800-MW Akkuyu nuclear plant. Courtesy: Rosatom

Rosatom in February said it was talking with Turkish state-owned power producer EUAS to join the project after a previous deal with a group of three other companies fell apart. Rosatom in a statement Wednesday said it “categorically rejects speculation that any changes to the composition of the local ownership structure in the Akkuyu project have any bearing on the timetable of its implementation.”

The Akkuyu plant is expected to feature four 1,200-MW Rosatom-built VVER-1200 reactors, with the first unit expected online in 2023. The plant is part of the Turkish government’s plan to reduce its reliance on imported energy.

Reuters earlier in March reported that people familiar with the plant said the 2023 target date would likely be missed as Rosatom seeks new partners for the Akkuyu project, and added Rosatom has looked at four Turkish companies as potential partners. Those reports also said local companies are wary of the financial parameters of the project, with concerns about whether they would get an adequate share of the construction contract for the $20 billion plant.

Reuters on Wednesday reported that an email from Rosatom said “We are doing our utmost to speed up the first unit’s construction based on following the strictest safety regulations and the request of the Turkish party to achieve physical start-up of the first unit of the NPP [nuclear power plant] in 2023.”

The Akkuyu plant has faced opposition from environmental groups, and the European Union in August 2017 overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution asking for a halt to construction. The resolution primarily cited the plant’s location in an earthquake-prone area.

Rosatom, however, said a 2000 report from Turkish nuclear authorities said Akkuyu is “located in the least seismically hazardous area in the current earthquake zones map of Turkey.” Rosatom also has said the plant is being built according to post-Fukushima requirements, with the ability to withstand a 9-magniture earthquake.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine)

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