A ceremony marking the delivery of the first batch of nuclear fuel for Türkiye’s Akkuyu NPP has taken place at the construction site. This event officially signals the entry of the Republic of Türkiye into the community of countries developing nuclear generation technologies on their territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended by video conference. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, Turkish Minister of Energy & Natural Resources Fatih Dönmez, and Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev addressed the ceremony directly.

Akkuyu, Türkiye's first NPP, will eventually host four Russian-designed VVER-1200 reactors. The pouring of first concrete for unit 1 took place in April 2018, for unit 2 in June 2020, for unit 3 in March 2021, and for unit 4 in July 2022. Completion of unit 1 is expected in the third quarter of 2023. Rosatom is constructing the reactors according to a build-own-operate model. To date, the project is fully funded by the Russian side. However, Rosatom has the right to sell a share of up to 49% in the project to other investors.

The reactor buildings at the Akkuyu NPP power units are equipped with double containment. The outer protective shell is formed from reinforced concrete and designed to withstand extreme external influences including earthquakes of up to 9 points, tsunamis, hurricanes, as well as their combinations. Construction and installation work on site is underway simultaneously at all the main and auxiliary facilities. These include the four power units, onshore hydraulic structures, power distribution system, administrative buildings, training centre, and physical protection facilities. All stages of construction are closely monitored by independent inspection organisations and the Turkish Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NDK).

Putin and Erdogan gave symbolic permission to deliver the first batch of fresh nuclear fuel to the Akkuyu site. Wheeled platforms with transport packaging kits carrying the fuel assemblies proceeded from the checkpoint to the fresh fuel storage. Rosatom’s Alexei Likhachev presented Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez with a certificate confirming the delivery of fuel in compliance with all safety standards and requirements. Representatives of three generations of residents of the Gulnar district raised the IAEA flag over the Akkuyu NPP site.

“It is very symbolic that Türkiye is joining the club of industrially and technologically developed states that already have their own nuclear industry,” said Putin, noting that 2023 is the year that Türkiye celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the republic.

“The construction of the first nuclear power plant in Türkiye has become a truly joint project, said Likhachev. More than 400 Turkish companies participate in it. It can be said that Türkiye has already developed its own nuclear industrial cluster. The accumulated experience of cooperation will allow us to realise the potential of this cluster on other projects.”

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said nuclear energy brings a great benefit, and along with it a great responsibility. “Therefore, the IAEA has been following the Akkuyu NPP project from the beginning and providing support to ensure compliance with safety requirements. Today we are full of hope, and we take this step with faith in its success. Akkuyu nuclear power plant will produce clean energy for 100 years. You can count on the support of the IAEA every step of the way.”

Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said that, with the arrival of the first fresh nuclear fuel, Akkuyu NPP achieved the formal status of "nuclear facility". He noted that the plant will begin to generate electricity next year and that the four reactors will meet about 10% of Türkiye’s annual electricity needs. “We will save of 7bn cubic metres of natural gas imports and avoid 35m tonnes of carbon emissions annually with 35bn kilowatts of electricity we will produce here,” he said. "Today construction of the world's largest nuclear power plant is taking place in Türkiye.”

He added: “Approximately 30,000 people were working at the site during the peak period - equivalent to the entire population of our Gülnar district, where the power plant is located." He said a huge industry is developing involving electronics, mechanics, machinery and manufacturing “Türkiye's Akkuyu will play a leading role in the development of new generation energy technologies.”

Türkiye’s Energy Ministry said the nuclear fuel, containing uranium pellets, “was brought by air the night before from Russia to Adana Airport under high security”. The fuel was then loaded on three trucks and transported to the Akkuyu site over land. “The uranium pellets, which are transported in protective containers with radiation monitoring, do not pose any security risk." The fuel was manufactured by Russia’s Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (part of Rosatom’s fuel company TVEL). The NPP will receive regular supplies of fuel under a long-term contract between TVEL and Akkuyu Nukleer.

All images courtesy of Rosatom

Date: Friday, 28 April 2023
Original article: neimagazine.com/news/newsfirst-fuel-delivered-to-trkiyes-akkuyu-npp-10797897