Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom was awarded a licence at the end of August to start construction of unit 2 at the Akkuyu nuclear plant in Turkey’s Mersin Province, Rosatom deputy director Kirill Komarov said on 5 September.
The $20 billion Akkuyu project to build four VVER-1200 reactors, with combined output of 4.8GWe, is expected to meet 6-7% of Turkey’s electricity demand when fully operational. Turkey is pressing for completion of unit 1 by 2023, the centenary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic.
In April 2018, Rosatom was granted a licence for the first reactor, and the foundations are now almost completed. According to the contract signed in 2010, Rosatom has seven years to build each reactor from the date its receives all required licences and permissions. It is the world’s first nuclear power plant to be constructed under a build, own and operate (BOO) arrangement.
The melt trap, or core catcher for unit 1 is already on-site and would be installed this autumn. Komarov said the entire Akkuyu site had been levelled and a platform was ready for the four units. Rosatom has also completed a port to receive heavy components. Currently some 1700 construction workers on the site, most of them Turkish.
Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Donmez told Bloomberg: "The Akkuyu NPP project is being implemented in accordance with the plan” adding that he hoped construction of the first two units would “continue with acceleration”. As to plans for a second NPP, which was to have been built at Sinop by Japan, Donmez noted that it had stopped because of the “inexpediency” of a contractor’s proposal for Turkey. "The consortium, which includes a Japanese investor, presented us with feasibility studies. By studying them, it became clear that the proposal does not suit us in terms of time or cost.”
In mid-August Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan instructed officials to speed up and provide any support for the implementation of Turkey’s nuclear projects.
“In order to prevent delays in the implementation of projects of nuclear power plants, carried out in coordination with the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, and to use the peaceful atom more efficiently, maximum attention will be paid to the timely fulfilment of obligations by all relevant government agencies and departments, to ensure any necessary support and relief ", he said in a circular. He added that "the successful and safe implementation of nuclear power plant projects" is of great importance and would help Turkey to "cover the demand for electricity, reduce dependence on energy imports, balance of payments deficit indicators and increase the diversification of energy sources”.
Also in August, Russia’s Sberbank became the first creditor of the NPP by providing project company Akkuyu Nuclear, a Rosatom subsidiary, with a $400 million loan over seven years. Previously, the construction of Akkuyu NPP was financed from the Russian federal budget and by Rosatom. Anatoly Popov , Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of Sberbank, said: “Of course, this is a new stage of cooperation between the bank and the State Corporation, and I am sure that this transaction once again confirms the reliability of Sberbank's position as a financial partner to the nuclear industry.”