First concrete was poured for the third unit of Turkey’s Akkuyu NPP on 11 March. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan both took part in the ceremony by videoconference. The even at the construction site was attended by Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Dönmez, the General Director of Russia’s Rosatom, Alexey Likhachev, and the General Director project company Akkuyu Nuclear, Anastasia Zoteeva.
Erdogan said the plant would launch Turkey into the "league of nuclear energy countries" and described it as a "symbol of Turkish-Russian cooperation”. He added: "We will be placing Turkey in the league of countries with nuclear energy by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the founding of our Republic," referring to the year when the plant’s first unit, out of a total of four, is scheduled to become operational. He said the close dialogue that established with Russia “is playing a key role not only in bilateral relations but also in preserving regional peace and stability”.
Putin said the plant was a "truly flagship project” and praised the coordinated efforts of Russian and Turkish nuclear specialists, engineers, workers, which “make it possible to ensure the construction of a nuclear power plant in accordance with the agreed schedule, while successfully solving the most complex design and installation technological problems”. He added that the project had continued despite difficulties associated with the coronavirus pandemic. “At the highest level, sanitary and epidemiological safety, and health protection for employees directly employed at the facility was ensured,” he said, noting that the project will make a significant contribution towards strengthening Turkey’s energy security and stimulating economic growth.
Likhachev said he greatly appreciated the current pace of construction work. “Just three years after the start of construction of the Akkuyu NPP, we are starting full-scale construction work at the third power unit. An unprecedented pace has been gained in the implementation of the project, and I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Turkey, as well as the leadership of local self-government bodies for their comprehensive support of the project,” he said.
“Construction and commissioning of the station will provide 10% of Turkey's electricity needs. It is important that it is also the most important contribution to the preservation of our ecology: nuclear power plants are a source of environmentally friendly and uninterrupted electricity,” said Turkish Energy Minister Dönmez. “The project is a driver for the development of industry, economy, employment, and also contributes to the development of many related industries.” He added that the NPP would supply about 10% of domestic electricity needs.
The Akkuyu NPP construction project, the first in Turkey, is being implemented by Akkuyu Nuclear following an intergovernmental agreement signed between Russian and Turkey in 2010. The Akkuyu NPP with four VVER-1200 units is being constructed on a build-own-operate basis by Rosatom, with commissioning of the first unit planned for 2023. The other three units are due to start operation by the end of 2026, at yearly intervals. Construction of the second unit started in June 2020 and Turkey granted a construction licence for the third unit in November. The plant, which will have an estimated service life of 60 years with an extension of another 20 years. Total investment in the plant is estimated at $20 billion.
The project is expected to employ around 15,000 people during its peak construction period, and 4,000 people during its operations.
Some 186 Turkish engineers have so far completed their training in Russia, with 58 students due to complete their training in 2022. The students receive 6.5 years of training at the Moscow Institute of Nuclear Physics and Engineering (MEPhl).