ANKARA, June 15 Russia’s State Atomic Energy
Corporation (Rosatom) won approval from Turkey’s energy watchdog
on Thursday to go ahead with building its $20 billion Akkuyu
nuclear power plant in southern Turkey.
The project to construct four nuclear reactors has
repeatedly run into delays, including being briefly halted after
Turkey downed a Russian jet near the Syrian border in November
2015. Ties have since normalised between the two countries and
work on the plant has resumed.
It is now expected to be completed by 2023 and should meet
6-7 percent of Turkey’s electricity demand once it is fully
operational, energy watchdog EPDK said in a statement.
Rosatom has sold several nuclear reactors to developing
countries under a model by which Russia finances, builds and
operates the nuclear plant and sells power to its customer – a
model that has also raised questions about Russia using energy
policy as a means to political ends.
EPDK said it had given Rosatom’s project company Akkuyu
Nukleer AS a 49-year production license.
Dependant on imports for almost all of its energy, Turkey
has embarked on an ambitious nuclear programme, commissioning
Rosatom in 2013 to build the four 1,200 megawatt (MW) reactors.
With Turkey’s energy imports costing about $50 billion
annually and its energy demand among the fastest-growing in
Europe, Ankara wants at least 5 percent of its electricity
generation to come from nuclear energy in under a decade,
cutting dependency on natural gas largely bought from Russia.
Rosatom initially pledged to have the first of the four
reactors in Akkuyu ready by 2019 before it suffered delays.
EPDK said on Thursday that Akkuyu Nukleer had agreed to
accelerate construction so that all four reactors would be built
by 2023, the centenary of the foundation of the Turkish
Republic, rather than 2025 as previously agreed by Russia and
(Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing
by Humeyra Pamuk and Susan Fenton)