Construction complicated by sanctions on Moscow for invasion of Ukraine
The first batch of nuclear fuel has been delivered to the Russia-backed Akkuyu nuclear power station project in Turkey with Moscow hailing “an historic event that marks the entry of the Republic of Turkey into the community of countries developing nuclear generation technologies on their territory”.
Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom said Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdoğan took part in a ceremony held at the Akkuyu site, in Merson province on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, via videoconference.
International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Rafael Grossi, Turkey’s energy minister Fatih Donmez, Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev and Akkuyu Nuclear chief executive officer Anastasia Zoteeva attended the event.
Rosatom said Likhachev presented Donmez with a certificate confirming the fuel delivery “in compliance with all safety standards and requirements”.
“We plan to complete the physical launch [of the plant] next year… in order to be able to produce electricity on a steady basis from 2025, as we agreed,” Likhachev said.
Rosatom said the fuel for Akkuyu, which when cmolete will cover 10% of Turkey’s electricity needs, was manufactured by the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant in Siberia, southern Russia.
In January, the inner steel containment dome was lifted into place for Unit 1 at Akkuyu, marking a significant construction landmark.
Construction has been complicated by sanctions the West imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
‘Certain Logistical Problems’
“Yes, we have certain logistical problems,” Akkuyu plant director Sergei Butskikh told reporters.
“The transportation routes are getting longer. Not all of the shipping companies are able to work with us. So here yes, we feel the sanctions,” Butskikh added. “But this has not affected the quality of the plant’s construction.”
Earlier estimates suggested the first unit would begin commercial operation this year, but Rosatom has since given a date of 2025.
Grossi said in a speech at the ceremony that “nuclear energy gives good, but also responsibilities”. He said: “That is why IAEA has been associated from the beginning with the project by providing assistance to follow safety standards required.
“We are doing this today with the spirit of hope, the spirit of success. In another 100 years’ time Akkuyu NPP will still be producing clean energy.”
The $20bn (€18.2bn) Akkuyu, the first commercial nuclear power station in Turkey, is being built by Rosatom subsidiaries under a contract signed in 2010.
The station will have four Generation III+ VVER-1200 units, with the first expected to come online in 2025 and a further unit starting every year afterwards.
Akkuyu is the world’s first nuclear power station project implemented through a build-own-operate (BOO) model. Under the long-term contract, Rosatom has agreed to provide the power station’s design, construction, maintenance, operation and decommissioning.
Turkey hopes the station, described by Likhachev as the “largest nuclear construction site on the planet”, will reduce its dependence on imports of gas and other energy.
The Akkuyu station will have four Generation III+ VVER-1200 units, with the first expected to come online in 2025.