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Nuclear Power in Turkey

(Updated May 2014)

  • Turkey has had plans for establishing nuclear power generation since 1970. Today, plans for nuclear power are a key aspect of the country's aim for economic growth.
  • Recent developments have seen Russia take a leading role in offering to finance and build 4800 MWe of nuclear capacity.
  • Application has been made for construction and operating licences for the first plant, at Akkuyu, and these are expected in mid 2014.
  • A Franco-Japanese consortium is to build the second nuclear plant, at Sinop.

Turkey imports much of its energy, including nearly all of its oil and gas, and in 2012 this amounted to more than $60 billion. Improving energy efficiency and energy security are high priorities.

In 2012 Turkey’s electricity production was 240 billion kWh gross from 53 GWe of plant. Of this, 105 TWh (44%) came from gas (two thirds of this from Russia, most of the rest from Iran), 68 TWh (28%) from coal, and 58 TWh (24%) from hydro. Net import was 3 TWh. Demand growth is about 8% pa, and in the first half of 2012 consumption was 119.3 billion kWh. Per capita consumption has risen from 800 kWh/yr in 1990 to about 2500 kWh/yr. Demand in 2023 is expected to be 450 billion kWh, implying new investment by then of $100 billion. Peak demand was 40 GWe in first half of 2013.

Plans for nuclear power are a key aspect of the country's aim for economic growth, and it aims to cut back its vulnerable reliance on Russian and Iranian gas for electricity. The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (ETKB) projects 2020 electricity production as possibly 499 TWh in a high scenario of 8% growth, or 406 TWh with a low one with 6.1% growth.

Plans are to have 30 GWe of coal-fired capacity by 2023. However, much of the country’s coal resources are lignite with low calorific value – less than 12.5 MJ/kg, and a substantial amount (Afsin Ebistan) at less than 5 MJ/kg.

Nuclear power developments in Turkey

Several nuclear power projects have been proposed: In 1970 a feasibility study concerned a 300 MWe plant, in 1973 the electricity authority decided to build a 80 MWe demonstration plant but didn’t, then in 1976 the Akkuyu site on the eastern Mediterranean coast near the port of Mersin was licensed for a nuclear plant. In 1980 an attempt to build several plants failed for lack of government financial guarantee.

In 1993 a nuclear plant was included in the country's investment program following a request for preliminary proposals in 1992. But revised tender specifications were not released until December 1996. Bids for a 2000 MWe plant at Akkuyu were received from Westinghouse + Mitsubishi, AECL and Framatome + Siemens. Following the final bid deadline in October 1997, the government delayed its decision no less than eight times between June 1998 and April 2000, when plans were abandoned due to economic circumstances.

Early in 2006 the province of the port city of Sinop on the Black Sea was chosen to host a commercial nuclear power plant. This has the advantage of cooling water temperatures about 5 degrees C below those at Akkuyu, allowing about 1% greater power output from any thermal unit. A 100 MWe demonstration plant was to be built there first, then 5000 MWe of further plants to come into service from 2012. Some kind of public-private partnership was envisaged for construction and operation.

In August 2006 the government said it planned to have three nuclear power plants total 4500 MWe operating by 2012-15. Discussions had been under way with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd regarding two 750 MWe CANDU units as an initial investment. These and the PWR type were apparently preferred. The first units of some 5000 MWe total were to be built at Akkuyu, since the site was already licensed, but licensing was also proceeding for Sinop.

In November 2007 a new law concerning Construction and Operation of Nuclear Power Plants and Energy Sale (of their electricity) was passed by parliament and subsequently approved by the President. The bill provided for the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) to set the criteria for building and operating the plants. The Turkish Electricity Trade & Contract Corporation (TETAS) would then buy all the power under 15-year contracts. The bill also provided for public institutions to build the plants if other offers are not satisfactory. It also addressed waste management and decommissioning, providing for a National Radioactive Waste Account (URAH) and a Decommissioning Account (ICH) which generators would pay into progressively at USD 0.15 c/kWh. The OECD Paris and Brussels Conventions on third party accident liability would apply.

Immediately subsequent to this law, Criteria for Investors who will Construct and Operate Nuclear Power Plants, and regulations were published. IAEA safety standards apply.

In May 2008 a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the USA entered into force, and in June 2010 a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea was signed, and in April 2012 two such agreements with China were signed.

In November 2013 the IAEA conducted an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) in Turkey to assess the country’s progress in preparing for the new nuclear power program. It reported positively but recommended completing a national policy on nuclear energy, strengthening the regulatory body, and developing a national plan for human resource development.

Planned and Proposed Nuclear Power Reactors

  Type MWe gross Start construction Start operation
Akkuyu 1 VVER-1200 1200 Late 2015 - January 2016 2019? 2021?
Akkuyu 2 VVER-1200 1200 2017 2021
Akkuyu 3 VVER-1200 1200 2018 2022
Akkuyu 4 VVER-1200 1200 2019 2023
Sinop 1 Atmea1 1150 2017 2023
Sinop 2 Atmea1 1150   2024
Sinop 3 Atmea1 1150   ?
Sinop 4 Atmea1 1150   ?

In addition to these, the government has announced intentions for three further nuclear power plants with four reactors each, all to be operational by 2030.

Akkuyu

TETAS called for tenders in March 2008, inviting bids for the first nuclear power plant at Akkuyu, near the port of Mersin on the eastern Mediterranean coast. TAEK issued specifications, allowing for PWR, BWR or PHWR types of at least 600 MWe and with 40-year service life. Design certification in country of origin was acceptable, allowing TAEK to concentrate on site-specific aspects of the 4800 MWe project. In the event, only one bid was received from 14 interested parties, this being from Atomstroyexport in conjunction with Inter RAO (both from Russia) and Park Teknik (Turkey), for an AES-2006 power plant with four 1200 MWe reactors. After some deliberation, TAEK found that it met technical criteria. (It was later reported that TAEK required foreign vendors to take back used fuel, and none except ASE were prepared to do so.)

Following commercial advice from TETAS, a government decision was expected in April 2009, but in fact only a series of statements resulted, regarding the cost of power over the first 15 years being too high. Then in August 2009 two agreements between TAEK and Rosatom were signed with much fanfare. One was a nuclear cooperation agreement, the other was a standard one on the early notification on a nuclear accident and the exchange of information on nuclear facilities. These progressed the possibility of a Russian nuclear project at Akkuyu, probably with 25% government equity to dampen the likely electricity price rise. The first reactor was expected to come on line in 2016, and others in 2017, 2018 and 2019. However, following a ruling by the country's top legal body, TETAS canceled the Atomstroyexport proposal and said that a new tender would be launched soon. In fact, the parties proceeded to a direct high-level agreement instead.

In May 2010 Russian and Turkish heads of state signed an intergovernmental agreement for Rosatom to build, own and operate (BOO) the Akkuyu nuclear power plant of four 1200 MWe AES-2006 units as a US$ 20 billion project. This will be its first foreign plant on that BOO basis. Rosatom, through Atomstroyexport and Inter RAO UES, will finance the project and start off with 100% equity in the Turkish Akkuyu project company (APC) set up to build, own, operate and decommission the plant. The project company became Akkuyu NPP JSC (Akkuyu Nukleer Santral/ NGS Elektrik Uretim AS) in 2011. Longer-term, Rosatom entities intend to retain at least 51% of the company. The Turkish firm Park Teknik and state generation company Elektrik Uretim AS (EUAS) are expected to take up significant shares. In May 2013 Rosatom invited EdF to become an equity partner in the project. Meanwhile, EUAS transferred the site to the project company.

In July 2010 parliament ratified the May agreement for 4800 MWe at Akkuyu, and in November the Russian parliament ratified it. The project company was registered in December 2011, and by mid 2012 the equity position was Rosenergoatom concern 92.85%, InterRAO UES 3.47%, Atomstroyexport 3.47%, and 0.1% each for Atomenergoremont and Atomtechenergo. In October 2013 Rusatom Overseas was made responsible for the main Russian involvement in the project, as majority owner and manager, apparently taking over Rosenergoatom and Atomstroyexport equity. InterRAO UES reduced its holding to 0.8% in April 2014. A 49% non-Russian strategic investor was being sought, and early in 2014 this was still on offer. Late in 2012 JSC Akkuyu NPP quoted the cost as $18.7 billion, and in December Russia's President announced that Russia would fully finance the project to more than $20 billion. Turkey's prime minister said that the equity capital of the JSC Akkuyu NPP would be increased to $2.4 billion, and the overall investment in the project would total $22 billion. Rusatom will supply the fuel.

TETAS will buy a fixed proportion of the power at a fixed price of US$ 12.35 cents/kWh for 15 years, or to 2030. The proportion will be 70% of the output of the first two units and 30% of that from units 3&4 over 15 years from commercial operation of each. The remainder of the power will be sold by the project company on the open market. After 15 years, when the plant is expected to be paid off, the project company will pay 20% of the profits to the Turkish government. (These sovereign guarantees are not on offer for the Sinop plant.)

The project company was to apply for all licences within 12 months, and the first reactor is to be on line within seven years of receiving these, with the others to follow at one-year intervals. By mid-2012 Rosatom said that the cost could be $25 billion. In December 2011 the project company had filed applications for construction permits and a power generation licence, as well as an environmental impact assessment by the July 2013 deadline, with a view to Atomstroyexport as general contractor starting construction. 

In mid-2012 the company had received a site licence, and it let the first major contract for site works in February 2013. Another site licence was received in January 2014. A revised environmental impact assessment was submitted in April 2014. The actual construction licence was expected in mid-2014, enabling full construction to start late in 2015 or January 2016. The company expected to commission the first unit in 2021, though in March 2014 the Energy Minister said he expected it to operate in 2019. Some $1.3 billion expenditure on the project was budgeted by Rosatom for 2013.

Sinop

Since February 2008 preparatory work has been under way at Sinop on the Black Sea coast to build a second nuclear plant there, along with a €1.7 billion nuclear technology centre. A 5000-5600 MWe nuclear plant there is expected to cost about $22-25 billion. However, the same sovereign guarantees as at Akkuyu regarding power offtake are not included.

In May 2013 the government accepted the proposal from a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Areva, with Itochu, which proposed four Atmea1 reactors with total capacity of about 4800 MWe at a cost of some $22 billion. An intergovernmental agreement was then signed with Japan for “exclusive negotiating rights to build a nuclear power plant”, and in October an official agreement at prime ministerial level was signed for the project*. EUAS intends to take a 25% stake in the project company. GdF Suez, which operates seven nuclear reactors in Belgium, is to be the operator. 

* Earlier negotiations included a March 2010 agreement signed between Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) and EUAS for Kepco to prepare a bid to build the plant at Sinop, with four APR-1400 reactors starting operation from 2019. The bid, in conjunction with local construction group Enka Insaat ve Sanayi, was due in August. Kepco was to take 40% equity in the plant, and would help with financing. However, this proposal foundered due to the Kepco insistence on receiving electricity sales guarantees from the government, rather than from TETAS as at Akkuyu.

Japan then indicated its interest in negotiating to build the 5600 MWe plant, and in December 2010 signed an agreement to prepare a bid for it, with a more definitive agreement expected in March 2011. Toshiba and Tepco were involved with the proposal, using four 1350 MWe ABWR units. However talks were suspended at Japan's request following the Fukushima accident, and Tepco has since opted out. Subsequent reports suggested a possible bid by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with Kansai, which operates 11 PWRs, and using APWR units. In March 2012 Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that progress continued towards a nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan.

In April 2012 Canada’s Candu Energy signed an agreement with the EUAS to undertake a six-month study on building a 3000 MWe plant at Sinop. In March 2013 the energy minister said that they had withdrawn from the process.

Subject to a GdF Suez decision to proceed in 2016, construction start is planned for 2017 and operation from 2023. These are likely to be the first Atmea1 units built. They are designed for load-following and use the same steam generators as Areva’s large EPR (but three instead of four). Cost is projected at $4.89 billion each. MHI has set up a new business unit, the Turkey Nuclear IPP Development Department, to handle the feasibility study, negotiate contracts, prepare financing and undertake other functions in Turkey.

The Energy minister said in April 2013 that talks were continuing with both Mitsubishi-Areva-led and Chinese consortia, the latter led by China Guangdong Nuclear Power (CGNPC) and proposing ACPR1000 reactors, with Fangchenggang 3&4 (due to be built from 2014) as reference units. These may eventuate for another site.

Third site

There are proposals to build further nuclear capacity at another site, as part of 100 GWe required by 2030. TAEK has identified Igneada on the Black Sea, 12 km from the Bulgarian border, and Akcakoca between it and Sinop as possible third nuclear power plant sites. Ankara – with low seismic risk – and Tekirdag on the northwest coast of the Sea of Marmara have also been mentioned as possible sites. When agreement for the development of the Sinop plant has been finalised, the energy ministry plans to announce the site for the third plant with an invitation for expressions of interest to be issued by the end of 2013.

Uranium and fuel cycle

Turkey has modest uranium resources, including 7400 tU listed in the 2007 Red Book which are amenable to mining by in situ leaching. The Temrezli deposit in the central Anatolian region 220 km east of Ankara was discovered by the Department of Energy, Raw Material and Exploration (MTA) in the early 1980s. MTA continued to explore the region for the next 10 years. Regional towns of Yozgat and Sorgun are nearby.

Australian-based Anatolia Energy Ltd* has a 100% interest in 18 exploration licences which include the Temrezli project. Project activities are undertaken by A Dur Madencilik Ltd (Adur), a wholly-owned subsidiary.

* Anatolia Uranium Pty Ltd (AUL) has 65% ownership of the Temrezli project, with parent company Anatolia Energy directly holding 35%. AUL was an incorporated JV but ownership was rationalised in 2012-13. In February 2014 Azarga Resources, parent company of Powertech Uranium, increased its holding to a 15% share in Anatolia Energy.

A preliminary economic assessment of the Temrezli ISL uranium project was published in June 2013 and updated in May 2014, based on NI 43-101 figures. It found that costs would compare favourably with other (US) ISL projects at envisaged production of 3550 tU over ten years, up to 385 tU/yr. Measured resources at Temrezli are 2351 tU, indicated resources are 2004 tU, and inferred resources 732 tU, at 0.117%U, 0.092%U, and 0.075%U respectively at the end of 2013. Cash production costs are estimated at $20.22/lb U3O8 (excluding tax and royalty). The Ministry of Energy & Natural Resources has awarded a Production Licence for the project, and a pre-feasibility study is now being completed. Subject to finance, a development decision is expected late in 2014, with prospective start in 2016.

Anatolia Energy also has a significant tenement holding in the Sefaatli (35 km away) and West Sorgun areas.

The Rosatom agreement for Akkuyu also provides for setting up a fuel fabrication plant in Turkey.

Wastes

Though originally TAEK required reactor vendors to take back used fuel, the question of whether used fuel for Akkuyu will remain in Turkey or be repatriated to Russia in line with normal practice for Russian plants in non-weapons states had not been settled (by May 2014).

Organisation

The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (ETKB) is responsible for meeting energy needs.

The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) oversees all nuclear activities, submits budgets to the prime minister, and sets TAEK’s programs. An Advisory Council assists the AEC on matters referred to it. An Advisory Committee on Nuclear Safety is involved with licensing and gives advice to TAEK, which decides on them.

The Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) was set up under the 2007 law to set the criteria for building and operating nuclear plants. It incorporates the regulator.

The Turkish Electricity Trade & Contract Corporation (TETAS) buys the power for distribution.

TEIAS is the power grid operator.

Turkey is a signatory of the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability, and various amending protocols.

R&D

A small Triga research reactor has operated at the Istanbul Technical University since 1979. It is regulated by the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority.

Non-Proliferation

Turkey ratified the NPT in 1979 and has had a safeguards agreement in force with the IAEA since 1981 and the Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement has been in force since 2001.