Putin happy to sponsor Ankara’s nuclear ambition. For seven years, huge earthmoving vehicles have been excavating, clearing and flattening an expanse of land that is the size of about 1,500 football pitches on an arid stretch of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. It is testament to how long nuclear reactors take to build that it was only last month that the first concrete was poured into the foundations at Akkuyu in the southern province of Mersin. It will be, if all goes to plan, Turkey’s first atomic power plant. The moment was marked by a ceremony watched via video from Ankara by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, reflecting the strategic importance of a project that will deepen energy ties between their countries. Akkuyu is being built by Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear company, at the cost of $20bn for four 1,200 megawatt reactors designed to meet 10 per cent of Turkish electricity needs. Mr Putin said: “We have an ambitious task — to launch the first nuclear power unit in 2023, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.” For Rosatom, Akkuyu is a showcase for Russian nuclear technology as it vies for orders with rival developers in emerging markets. Demand for reactors has slowed since the Fukushima disaster and many countries are turning to renewable power as the cost of wind and solar falls. That makes Turkey a test of nuclear’s ability to remain competitive.
FT 30th May 2018 read more »