A preliminary move on March 10 puts Turkey closer than ever to building its first nuclear power plant. The plant, which would consist of four reactors with a total 5,600 MW capacity, would be built in northern Turkey on the Black Sea coast.

Though details remain to be worked out, the protocol between two state-owned power companies—Korean Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) and Elektrik Üretim (EUAS)—is big news for both countries. Turkey has long wanted a nuclear plant, but setbacks of various kinds, including financing problems and concern about earthquake faults, have thwarted all previous attempts at moving past the wishing stage. For its part, KEPCO has been actively working to develop plants beyond its home borders and has announced a goal of exporting 80 reactors, worth $400 billion, by 2030.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said he wanted nuclear power to generate 10% of his country’s electricity by 2020.

The Financial Times also reported that KEPCO and a Turkish construction group, Enka Insaat ve Sanayi, would form a 50-50 joint venture to construct the plant.

Though most news sources reported on the agreement as essentially a done deal, the Anatolia news agency quoted Yildiz as saying, "If any company from the United States, Canada, Japan, France makes a proposal, we are open to work similarly with them."

Since January, Turkey has been working with the Russian Federation to build a nuclear plant in Akkuyu, in southern Turkey, on the Mediterranean. That project has been fraught with controversy from its original inception in 2000. Given KEPCO’s aggressive goals and schedules, it’s possible that its planned project could come online before the Russian one.

Sources: POWERnews, UPI, Today’s Zaman, Financial Times, AFP