According to Turkey’s ministry of energy and natural resources, energy consumption in 2012 was 239 TWh a year, while in 2023 forecasts say it could reach as much as 478 TWh.
However, Massimo Giorgi of NIATR told NucNet that the current energy mix will not meet demand and the lack of reliable, diversified, low-cost energy is an obstacle to Ankara’s economic plans.
Once fully operational, the $20bn Akkuyu nuclear power station, where Turkey is building four 1,114-MW pressurised water reactor units supplied by Russia, will provide about 10% of the country’s total electricity generation.
According to Mr Giorgi, the introduction of nuclear will have a significant impact, including reducing the country’s dependency on fossil fuels. “It has been estimated that, if Akkuyu had been built 10 years earlier, Turkey would have saved up to $14bn in gas imports”, Mr Giorgi said.
According to the International Energy Agency, more than 34% of electricity generation came from coal in 2020and 22% from natural gas.
Despite rapid growth in domestic energy production, Turkey relies mostly on energy imports for its supply, the IEA says. Nearly all natural gas is imported and domestic oil production accounts for only about 7% of total demand.
Domestic coal production is larger, but despite recent growth, Turkey still relies on imports for 58% of its coal demand.
The first Akkuyu unit is expected to come online in 2023 with a further unit starting every year afterwards.
Construction of Unit 1 began in April 2018 with work following on Unit 2 in April 2021 and Unit 3 in April 2021. In October 2021, a construction licence was granted for Akkuyu-4.
Akkuyu will also have a significant impact on the social and economic development of the province of Mersin, southwest of Turkey, where it is being built. There are 10,000 people working on the project and thousands of long-term additional jobs will be created if regional infrastructure for trade and business, research, medicine, mechanical engineering and agriculture is taken into account Mr Giorgi said.
Under a BOO (build-own-operate) delivery method agreed with the Turkish government in 2010, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and its subsidiaries are supplying the four Generation III+ VVER-1200 units and funds for the project. Rosatom also shoulders the financial risks related to project.
The Turkish government provides the construction site and support, including permits and licences. Mr Giorgi said the BOO method might offer fewer localisation opportunities for Turkish companies during operation and decommissioning, mainly because of the lack of nuclear expertise and knowhow in the country. However, Turkey will take advantage of Russian technical support, training, and knowledge for operation, decommissioning and spent fuel management. Without this input from Russia – or another nuclear technology vendor – it would have been impossible for Turkey to “go it alone”.
State-owned electricity supplier EÜAŞ will buy around half the nuclear power generated from Akkuyu for 15 years at a pre-determined price.
Turkey’s Nuclear Energy Law, approved in 2019, assigns the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) to manage radioactive waste, including the disposal of spent fuel from Akkuyu and any other nuclear stations. Nuclear fuel will be sourced from Russian suppliers and spent nuclear fuel of Russian origin could be reprocessed in Russia.
Turkey has plans for more nuclear. In 2013, the Japanese and Turkish governments agreed to collaborate on a project to build new units at Sinop, on the Black Sea coast in the north of the country, with an alliance of Japanese and French businesses centred on Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and French nuclear plant maker Framatome. However, in January 2020, Turkey was reported to have cancelled the agreement because feasibility studies did not meet the energy ministry’s expectations with regard to schedule and pricing.
Tougher safety measures that came into force following the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011 more than doubled the estimated cost of the project to $46.2bn. Turkey might yet resurrect the project with another partner. The IEA said last year the Turkish government was in talks with other partners to develop the project.
In the meantime, Netherlands-based Fugro recently completed an offshore site characterisation for Sinop in August 2021.
The Igneada nuclear station, on the Black Sea close to the border with Bulgaria, is in the planning stages. The facility is expected to be built after 2023, Mr Giorgi said. US-based Westinghouse Electric Company is said to be providing two AP1000 plants with plans for two CAP1400 plants. The CAP1400 is an enlarged version of the AP1000 developed in China with consulting input from Westinghouse.
Press reports have said that in November 2014 China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation Limited (SNPTC) signed an agreement with Turkey’s utility EUAS and Westinghouse to begin exclusive negotiations to develop and construct the CAP1400 plant in Turkey.