The World Nuclear Association has welcomed the start of general construction work at the site of the planned Akkuyu nuclear power plant, following confirmation by Alexey Likhachov, director-general of the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. Speaking to journalists last week at the 61st regular session of the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference in Vienna, Likhachov said work on Turkey's first nuclear power plant project was underway, including the hydraulic facilities, the Daily Sabah reported.
JSC Akkuyu NPP, the Russian-owned company responsible for the project, received a 49-year electricity generation licence from Turkey's energy market regulatory authority (EPDK) in June. The company received a preliminary licence, enabling it to start investment and permitting procedures for the project, in June 2015.
Likhachov said on 19 September that Rosatom expects to get a construction licence for the Akkuyu plant this year, but that work at the site had already started. Earlier this month, Rosatom announced that construction of the plant could begin in early March next year.
Agneta Rising, director general of the World Nuclear Association, said: "It is great to see Turkey's nuclear energy ambitions finally mature," noting that nuclear energy has been planned in the country for several decades but previous attempts to get projects underway proved unsuccessful. Rising added: "Nuclear energy will help drive economic growth in the country and reduce reliance on imported gas."
The project to build four 1200 MWe Gidropress-designed AES-2006 VVER pressurized water reactors - on the Akkuyu site in Mersin province in southern Turkey - is being financed by Russia under a build-own-operate model, in accordance with an intergovernmental agreement Turkey and Russia signed in 2010. The plant is scheduled to start operations on 29 October, 2023 - the centenary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.
The World Nuclear Association welcomed Likhachov's announcement, saying it is a "positive sign that reactor construction will indeed commence in 2018 - putting Turkey on track to be the next new country to introduce nuclear energy into its mix after the UAE and Belarus".
The most recent country to start up its first nuclear energy plant was Iran in 2011 and before that Romania in 1996, but an increasing number of newcomer countries are fully committing to their programs.
Other recent developments include plans by Poland to begin a reactor technology selection process in 2018, while Saudi Arabia is expected to launch a reactor tendering process within the next month.
Rising noted that more than 9 GWe of new nuclear capacity came online last year - the biggest annual increase for over 25 years - and that global nuclear generation rose for the fourth successive year.
She said: "The level of new build remains high, but the pace of new construction starts must accelerate if we are to successfully balance environmental goals with human development," referring to the nuclear industry's Harmony goal, which requires 1000 GWe of new nuclear capacity to be added between 2016 and 2050.
"The world is quickly adding to the number of countries building nuclear plants for the first time. They are investing in diversity and resilience for their energy systems. Nuclear plants are reliable machines, capable of operating over 90% of the time, through every season and in every climate," she said.
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by World Nuclear News