Despite the catastrophe that overwhelmed Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s six reactor Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex on 11 March 2011, the global energy community has cautiously decided to press forward with a new generation of NPPs, a trend most notable in developing countries with surging economies, including China, India and Turkey. Despite regional opposition,
Turkey is pressing forward with an ambitious nuclear program to provide 10 percent of its electricity needs by 2023 and reduce its dependence on imports of oil and gas for nearly all its energy.
Turkey’s first NPP complex is scheduled to include four 1,200 MWe VVER-1200 reactors to be built at Akkuyu under a 2010 agreement between the governments of Russia and Turkey, and scheduled to come online in 2019–22.
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And Akkuyu is to be only the first of a number of NPPs planned for Turkey. Last year, addressing a "New Energy Corridor" forum as part of the World Economic Forum on 14 June in Istanbul, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told his audience, “We are a country without a nuclear power plant. However, we are determined to have nuclear power plants. We want to meet our increasing energy needs by erecting at least 23 nuclear units by the year 2023. This implies building nuclear power plants in three regions of Turkey. We don’t see a delay in the project. We expect construction to be completed by end-2019 and the first reactor to become operational in 2020”
Who is going to build this Turkish nuclear brave new world?
The Russian Federation’s state-owned firm Rosatom subsidiary Atomstroiekhsport, which, like its competitors U.S. firms General Electric and Westinghouse, France’s Areva and Japan’s Mitsubishi, have been scouring the globe for business.
If that is the good news, then the potentially bad news for the Akkuyu NPP site near Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast is that the plant would be built in a region subject to earthquakes. On 27 June 1998, a major earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale occurred in nearby Adana, which damaged 74,300 buildings, killed 150, injured 1,000 and caused damage estimated at $1 billion. Unsettling Turkish anti-nuclear activists, an active seismic fault line, the Ecemis fault, runs close to the Akkuyu site, only 15 miles away. Not surprisingly, many Turks nearby fear that the 4,800-megawatt Akkuyu facility, if constructed, could suffer a meltdown like Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear facility underwent in April 1986.
Turkey is one of the most seismically active regions in the world, rating 6th in the world of nations suffering annual earthquakes measuring 5.5 or greater on the Richter scale. Earthquakes have killed 950 citizens and have produced an average annual economic loss of over $1 billion over the past decade.
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But no matter.
In a canny effort to spread the risk, the Russian State Duma, while allocating $ 1.4 billion for the NPP, is seeking foreign investment. Rauf Kasimov, deputy general manager of Akkuyu NPP, stated during an interview, “Five Turkish companies have applied to become an equity partner. Also there are foreign companies who have applied as well. We have held meetings with over 30 companies for the construction. All of Turkey's big construction companies such as Enka, Tekfen, Nurol, Limak, Kolin are interested. We hope to open the tender by February.”
For Turkish environmentalists, the faint hope remains that the project has yet to obtain a construction license and approval of a key environmental assessment from Turkish authorities, which was initially expected this month. Given that a license for the Akkuyu site was issued in 1976, it would seem that the hopes of the Turkish anti-nuclear protestors are unlikely to prevail.
By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com