Nuke plant construction ‘continuing as planned’

Nuke plant construction ‘continuing as planned’

Nuke plant construction ‘continuing as planned’

The construction works for the first nuclear power plant of Turkey is continuing as planned and its first unit will start operations in 2023, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez has said.

“In Akkuyu, things are running as planned,” Dönmez said during a webinar organized by Sabancı Üniversity’s Istanbul International Center for Energy and Climate (IICEC) yesterday.

“A construction license was granted for the third unit of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. Hopefully, we will put the first reactor into operation in 2023 and the remaining three reactors at one-year intervals,” he said at the event marking the launch of the Turkey Energy Summit.

An agreement was signed between Turkey and Russia in May 2010 for the Akkuyu power plant, which is being built by Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom. It will house four VVER-1200 power units with a total installed capacity of 4,800 megawatts.

Upon completion, the Akkuyu plant will generate about 35 billion kilowatts-hours of electricity per year, corresponding to about 10 percent of the country’s electricity consumption.

While Turkey’s investments in clean energy resources are ongoing, the importance of base load energy plants for Turkey will not decrease, the minister said.

Turkey has taken important steps for a future where renewable energy and energy efficiency thanks to Renewable Energy Resource Zones (YEKA) tenders and license-free production, he added.

“We have increased the share of renewable energy in our total installed capacity to 60 percent. The share of power production from renewable energy has reached 45 to 50 percent. Despite that 2020 was not a very good year for the world, it has been a turning point for us in renewable energy.”

Dönmez added that Turkey now ranks 15th in the world and 5th in Europe in terms of capacity increase in renewables.

He also underlined Turkey’s efforts in developing its natural gas infrastructure and market, which will be boosted thanks to the gas discoveries in the Black Sea.

“Local gas strengthens Turkey’s hand in the contracts that will be renewed in the coming period. Our approach to this topic is crystal clear: We will transform Turkey into an energy hub where the pricing is done, the market development is being shaped, where the buyer and seller meet in a free market which has a developed energy infrastructure,” he asserted.

Turkey’s largest-ever natural gas reserve discovery at Tuna-1 well in the Sakarya Gas Field this summer has been revised up to 405 billion cubic meters, which is equal to about the country’s gas needs in eight years.

Ankara imported 45.3 bcm of natural gas last year, paying approximately $12 billion to pipeline exporters Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as liquefied natural gas suppliers including Qatar, Nigeria, Algeria and the United States.

Nuclear and renewables will provide at least 58 percent of Turkey’s power in 2040, according to a report by the IICEC.

Güler Sabancı, the founding chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Sabancı University, highlighted the rising share of investments in Turkey by private sector and foreign investors.

She stressed the significance of IICEC’s report as “it constitutes as a pioneer and exemplary study in country’s energy sector.”

Also speaking during the webinar, International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol said that the electricity consumption in Turkey reaching the pre-pandemic levels is an indicator of an economic rebound in the country’s economy.

“The decrease in energy demand in 2020 is seven times more than the decrease following the financial crises in 2008 and 2009,” he added, lauding solar energy as “the new king of the electricity sector.”