Russia and Turkey agreed to accelerate the Akkuyu project. The statement was made after the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"A generation license for the Akkuyu nuclear station will be issued in the short run. It is too early though to speak about specific dates", said Executive Director of the International Energy Agency Fatih Birol in his interview to RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency. "The nuclear power is of critical importance for Turkey in terms of energy dependence and environmental safety", he added.
"Following the talks, we agreed to speed up the Akkuyu project. I am sure that we are able to catch up with the schedule", said Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to Vladimir Putin, cooperation between the two countries will stimulate the Turkish power industry. "I would like to point out that this is not simply about the construction of a power plant. This is about the creation of an entirely new high-tech energy sector in Turkey with technology transfer and personnel training", President Putin said. At present, over 200 Turkish students are trained in Russian universities.
Meanwhile, a number of Turkish investors may take part in the Akkuyu project, TASS news agency quoted Rosatom's CEO Alexei Likhachov as saying. "We discussed, first, assigning Akkuyu a strategic status under the Turkish law and, second, inviting Turkey's investors to participate in the project. In accordance with the government agreement, they are expected to make up to 49% of total investments", Alexei Likhachov said.
Following talks between the Russian and Turkish leaders, the Akkuyu project was announced to receive a strategic investment status. In June, Turkey amended its legislation to remove the last barriers for the project to move ahead. Amendments were made to three Turkish laws that prohibit cutting down of olive trees on the proposed site, shaping the seafront and selling power by foreign producers. "As for the Akkuyu project, three Turkish laws were amended. We had raised a question of assigning a strategic investment status to this project. Finally, we received a positive response. It proves that large-scale projects – and we are talking about projects worth tens of billions of dollars – can be implemented. I hope that this will be so," said President Putin during his talks with Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Facilitating local businesses
Turkey needs nuclear power as an alternative to conventional power generation. Its natural resources are not sufficient to satisfy domestic demand for power. The Akkuyu nuclear station will reduce Turkey's dependence on gas imports and contribute to diversification of power sources. Gas accounts for nearly 50% of electric power generated in Turkey. Nuclear is planned to make 5% of total power generation in the country by 2023. Besides, a nuclear construction project always offers exciting prospects for local businesses. According to preliminary estimates, Turkish contractors will do up to 90% of construction and around 50% of installation. Up to 40% of nuclear station equipment can be manufactured locally. Up to 10,000 Turkish employees are expected to work on site at the height of construction.
Turkish companies will be able to fulfill 35–40% of all orders in the Akkuyu construction project. This will amount to 6–8 billion US dollars. So far, over 350 Turkish businesses have applied to be listed as potential equipment suppliers, demonstrating their willingness to participate in nuclear construction projects in Turkey.
The project is now in its preparatory phase. Works are ongoing to complete the project design, obtain all the required licenses and permits, and level the site. A temporary power generation license has been already obtained, with the general license to be issued in late 2016. A limited construction permit and a construction license for the nuclear island are expected to be obtained in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Russian universities continue training 266 Turkish operators for the Akkuyu nuclear station. In June 2016, Rosatom announced that the first concrete would be poured on the Akkuyu site in 2018 after obtaining the construction license. Unit 1 is scheduled for commissioning in seven years after all the required nuclear construction permits are obtained as specified in the agreement signed by the Russian and Turkish governments.
Akkuyu nuclear station
Location: Gülnar, Mersin Province, Turkey; the Akkuyu construction site lies on the Mediterranean seashore
Key investor and project owner: Akkuyu Nükleer Güç Santrali A.Ş.
General designer: AtomEnergoProekt
Preparatory phase contractor: ASE Group
Total site area: 1,023 ha
Headcount at the height of Akkuyu construction: 10,000 employees
Environmental impact assessment report for the Akkuyu project: 5,500 pages in Turkish