Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said a “solemn ceremony” was also held at the site of the nuclear station and attended by Turkish energy and natural resources minister Fatih Dienmez, Rosatom director-general Aleksey Likhachev and Akkuyu Nuclear chief executive officer Anastasia Soteeva.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the facility would launch Turkey into the “league of nuclear energy countries” and called it a “symbol of Turkish-Russian cooperation.” Nuclear power is a “strategic step” for energy security, Mr Erdogan said.
Speaking from Moscow, the Akkuyu has not been prevented by difficulties associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
Rosatom holds a 99.2% stake in the project, whose total cost is estimated at $20bn, according to the plant's website.
In November 2020, Rosatom said pouring of first concrete for Unit 3 could take place in the spring of 2021. Also in November, Rosatom announced the construction permit had been granted for Akkuyu-3.
The $20bn Akkuyu station, the first commercial nuclear station in Turkey, is being built near Mersin on the country’s southern Mediterranean coast under a contract signed with Russia in 2010.
The contract is for a subsidiary of Rosatom, Akkuyu Nuclear JSC, to build, own and operate the facility. The agreement was ratified by the Turkish parliament in July 2010. Engineering and survey work started at the site in 2011.
Akkuyu will have four Generation III+ VVER-1200 units, with the first expected to come online in 2023 and a further unit starting every year afterwards.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, construction of Akkuyu-1 began in April 2018 and of Akkuyu-2 in April 2020.