Russian sanctions delay nuclear plant in Turkey

July 8, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Mersin Province (in red) in Turkey. (Image: TUBS)

While commissioning began earlier this year at Turkey’s first nuclear plant, new reports say the project is delayed by sanctions against Russia due to its military invasion of Ukraine.

Rosatom director general Alexei Likhachev indicated this in comments on state television about the Akkuyu nuclear plant, the joint Russian-Turkish project sited in Turkey’s Mersin Province, Newsweek reported today. Rosatom is Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation.

While Rosatom is not subject to Western sanctions, some of its subsidiaries are, including Joint-Stock Company Atomstroyexport (ASE JSC), which develops nuclear installation technologies, and the Vladimir Production Association Tochmash, which makes centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

Quotable: Likhachev told state television, “The system of mutual settlements is under attack,” and he blamed “Americans who are going between our legal entities, between our banks.”

In a statement from April 2023, the U.S. State Department said it would constrain Rosatom “given [that] it uses energy exports, including the nuclear sector, to exert political and economic pressure on its customers globally.”

The project: Plans for Akkuyu include four Russian-designed VVER Gen III+ reactors, each with a capacity of 1,200 MW. Rosatom planned to have all four units operational by the end of 2028. The plant’s construction license was issued in 2018 and work began that year.

If completed, the 4,800-MWe plant will generate about 10 percent of Turkey’s electricity.

Related news: Meanwhile, Turkey is holding talks with the United States on the construction of large-scale nuclear power plants and small modular reactors, Reuters recently reported.

“The USA is showing serious interest in Turkey's goal of increasing its nuclear energy capacity and building new power plants,” Turkish energy minister Yusuf Ceylan told Reuters at a conference on nuclear power plants. “We are negotiating with the USA for both large-scale power plants and small modular reactors. This is a statement of intent.”

Ceylan said negotiations continued with South Korea and Russia for a second nuclear power plant planned for the Black Sea region of Sinop, and with China's State Power Investment Corporation for a third plant in northwestern Turkey's Thrace region.

Turkey plans to build three four-reactor nuclear plants and complement them with SMRs for a total of 20,000 MW of generation capacity to diversify its electricity production mix.

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