A new agency has been established in Turkey to regulate the nuclear energy sector, the Official Gazette announced on 9 July.

The Organisation for the Regulation of the Atomic Industry is responsible for control over all the activities of nuclear enterprises, including regulation of industrial enterprises, NPPs, and institutions engaged in nuclear research and extraction of materials for energy or medicine. The organisation will also deal with the storage of nuclear fuel, its utilisation, and will establish an acceptable standard of received radiation for employees of nuclear enterprises. It will participate in the licensing of facilities and enterprises, and regulate safety measures at nuclear facilities.

The government decree strengthens the requirement for contributions towards nuclear waste management from all nuclear power plants operating in Turkey. Payments will be made to special agency accounts in the amount of $0.15 per kWh of generated electricity. The number of employees of the organisation is estimated to be about 200 administrative personnel and 120  nuclear specialists, engineers, physicists, technical workers. The decree also regulates the transfer to the new body of the staff of the Agency for Atomic Energy of Turkey and the transfer to the organisation of a number of rights and powers of the agency, including oversight of international agreements. Also, the new regulator will appoint commissioners for enterprises to carry out control tasks and to other state institutions and ministries to coordinate work under normal conditions or in case of emergency. The new body will begin work from the moment the president formally approves it.

New build plans

Turkey has firm plans for two nuclear plants and is considering a third. Construction of the first plant is already underway in Mersin's Akkuyu district following a ground-breaking ceremony in early April. Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom is building the Akkuyu plant under a build-own-operate arrangement. It will comprise four VVER-1200 reactor units and is expected to meet around 10% of Turkey's electricity demand. It is scheduled to begin operation by 2023, to mark the centennial of the Republic of Turkey. The cost of the project is estimated at $20bn.

Russia has already begun manufacturing equipment for the plant. The Volgodonsk branch of the AEM-technology company (part of Rosatom’s engineering division, Atomenergomash) began welding the equipment in June following inspections by the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) and plant operator company Akkuyu Nuklear. On 11 July, 32 Turkish students, who are in their  4th year at the Obninsk Institute of Nuclear Power of the NNRU MEPhI – completed their work experience at Russia’s Novovoronezh NPP Training Centre. The students are future employees of the Akkuyu NPP.

The second plant, to be built in the northern Black Sea province of Sinop will be a joint Japanese-French project. On May 3, 2013, an intergovernmental agreement on nuclear power plant construction and cooperation was signed with Japan. The Turkey Electricity Generation Company (EÜAŞ) will hold a 49% stake in the plant and the Japanese-French company Atmea will own the rest. Atmea was initially a joint venture between Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and France’s Areva. However following restructuring in the French nuclear industry Atmea is now owned   50/50 between MHI and EDF, along with a special share owned by Framatome (formerly Areva). The plant will comprise four 1120MWe reactors at an estimated cost of $16bn.

As to a third nuclear plant, on 13 June  Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak said the location of a third plant had been discussed. "It is highly probable that the third NPP will be constructed in Thrace given the high energy consumption, “ he said adding that details would be published later this year. Media reports suggested that Turkey is negotiating with China for this third project.