Turkey reported the construction start of its first nuclear power plant to the IAEA’s Power Reactor Information System (PRIS) this week. The first safety-related concrete was poured for unit 1 of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant on 3 April, following the granting of the construction licence by the regulatory body, the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) the day before.
Four units with a total capacity of 4800 megawatts (electrical) (MWe) of the Russian VVER technology are planned to be constructed in cooperation with Russia. The four units at the site on the Mediterranean coast, 500 kilometres south of Ankara, are scheduled to be in operation by 2026.
Turkey decided to introduce nuclear power to meet a surge in energy demand and reduce its dependence on imported energy sources, which amounted to 72 percent of its total energy consumption in 2016. It plans to install three nuclear power plants by 2030, which are expected to generate 15% of its electricity, according to the country’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.
In May 2010, Turkey and Russia signed an agreement for the construction and operation of the nuclear power plant at the Akkuyu site. Three years later, an intergovernmental agreement was signed with Japan to develop a second nuclear power plant project at the Sinop site on the Black Sea. Site selection studies are underway for a third nuclear power plant.
Turkey is the fourth country in recent years to have begun construction of its first nuclear power plant, following the United Arab Emirates in 2012, Belarus in 2013, and Bangladesh in 2017.
IAEA support to Turkey’s nuclear infrastructure development
In 2013, Turkey invited the IAEA to review its programme for introducing nuclear power. The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission, consisting of IAEA and international experts, noted several good practices and made recommendations for further improvements.
The IAEA also conducted several Site and External Events Design (SEED) missions, the latest in 2017, at the Akkuyu site. These missions are designed to assist countries in nuclear installation site selection, site assessment, and design of structures, systems and components, taking into consideration site-specific external hazards such as floods and earthquakes.
The IAEA had been supporting Turkey in the drafting of its nuclear energy law and the law for civil liability for nuclear damage.
Under an Integrated Work Plan, agreed between the IAEA and Turkey, the Agency conducted numerous workshops and activities focusing on different aspects of nuclear power infrastructure development, such as regulatory framework, human resource development, stakeholder involvement, radiation protection, radioactive waste management, industrial involvement and environmental protection.