First concrete poured for Akkuyu unit 3

10 March 2021

Rosatom announced today that first concrete has been poured for the third unit of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant under construction in the Mersin province of Turkey. The Russian and Turkish heads of state joined the ceremony held to mark the event by video link. The Akkuyu nuclear power plant project is based on an intergovernmental agreement the two countries signed in 2010.

Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez and Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachov launching construction at Akkuyu unit 3 today (Image: Rosatom Global)

"Three years ago we poured first concrete at Akkuyu NPP unit 1 and today we did it at unit 3," the Russian state nuclear corporation said on Twitter, adding that the construction licence for unit 4 is expected to be granted by the Turkish regulator later this year. "Four VVER-1200 NPPs will secure 10% of Turkey's power needs. This success is proof that nuclear can and should be deployed efficiently around the world," Rosatom said.

According to a statement from the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin said: "First of all, I congratulate all of you on the beginning of a new important stage in the implementation of a large-scale joint Russian-Turkish project - the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey. In a few minutes, President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and I will start pouring concrete into the base of the third nuclear power unit. In total, the Akkuyu site envisages the construction of four reactor units with a total capacity of 4800 megawatts, which will be able to produce up to 37 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually."

The two leaders had also taken part in the ceremony to mark the start of the construction of the first power unit, in April 2018, he noted. Construction of unit 2 began in April 2020.

"The consistent implementation of the Akkuyu project has not been prevented even by the known difficulties associated with the coronavirus pandemic," Putin said. "I would like to note that at the highest level, health and epidemic safety is ensured, and the health of the employees directly employed in the project is protected. We are convinced that [the plant's] implementation will make a serious contribution to strengthening the energy security of the Republic of Turkey and help stimulate further growth of its economy. It will provide Turkish consumers with affordable and environmentally friendly electricity."

The development of a "fundamentally new industry" in Turkey, nuclear power, is strengthening the scientific and economic potential of the country, he said, adding that the number of personnel at the Akkuyu site now exceeds 8000 people, and that most of them are Turkish citizens.

Turkey's first Akkuyu nuclear power unit is due to start operations in 2023, which is the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.

According to a statement from the Turkish President's office, Erdoğan said that "investment in energy is an investment in the future".

He noted that, despite the pandemic, Turkey's economy "continues to grow steadily", reaching a growth rate of 1.8% in 2020, while 4900 MWe of new power plant capacity "almost entirely from renewables" was installed.

"Our discovery of 405 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea was one of the most important steps in our determination of 'Independent Energy, Strong Turkey'. We hope to receive good news from our drilling and seismic exploration efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean," he said.

Emphasising that nuclear energy "has a special place" in Turkey's energy policy, he said the goal is "to add nuclear energy, which runs on zero emissions while generating energy and does no harm to the environment, to Turkey's energy basket".

"As our economy grows, our need for reliable, uninterrupted and affordable energy grows as well. We have been working to diversify our energy projects with the understanding that investing in energy means investing in the future. In this regard, we attach great importance to energy efficiency and renewable energy," he said.

The first Akkuyu unit will be operational in 2023, he noted, further stressing that "no efforts are being spared in order for the other three reactors of this plant to be operational one after another", according to the statement.

Referring to the graduation of Turkish students from Russian university programmes, he said: "As a matter of fact, 186 of our students selected to be trained within the scope of the project returned to our country after completing their 6.5 years of challenging studies. These young people will take part in all the processes of our nuclear power plant, from engineering to management. Thus, Turkey's nuclear energy think tank will be formed and our national energy mobilisation will gain new generations."

The Akkuyu plant is equipped with the most advanced safety systems in compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency standards, he said.

After Erdoğan's speech, he and Putin instructed Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez and Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachov to launch the start of construction on unit 3.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News