A ceremony marking the start of full-scale construction work on the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant took place in the Turkish province of Mersin on Tuesday. The ceremony was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan via videoconference from Ankara, where Putin is on a two day visit.

After their opening statements, the leaders of the two countries signed off on the start of construction work and a symbolic button was pressed to mark the pouring of the ‘first concrete’ into the base of the reactor building of power unit 1 of what will be Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

The $20bn project to build the four-unit, 4800 MW plant is part of Erdogan’s ‘2023 Vision’ marking 100 years since the founding of modern Turkey and is intended to reduce the country’s dependence on energy imports. The first unit is scheduled to start operations that year, with the other three units following by 2025. The plant is expected to meet about 10 per cent of Turkey’s electricity needs.

Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev commented: “Rosatom is building in Turkey a cutting edge, tried and tested («generation III+») nuclear power plant featuring four power units based on the Russian VVER-1200 design which meets the world’s highest safety standards.”

“The model we are building at Akkuyu is already being built in a series. Unit 6 of Novovoronezh NPP and unit 1 of Leningrad NPP-2, based on the same design, are already up and running, with the former in a commercial operation and the latter launched in February. The safe and efficient operation of these units underscores the reliability of our technologies”.

“It is important to emphasise that the project is progressing according to plan in efficient cooperation with our Turkish partners.”

On the eve of the ceremony, JSC Akkuyu Nuclear, the project operator, acquired a license for nuclear power plant construction from Turkey’s Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK). In late March, the project company also received permission to build the reactor building of the first power unit of the Akkuyu plant from the administration of the Gulnar district. The pouring of the ‘first concrete’ is an important stage of the implementation process, marking the transition to full-scale construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, including construction of the buildings and facilities constituting its ‘nuclear island’.

Russia and Turkey signed an intergovernmental cooperation agreement on the construction and operation of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant – Akkuyu – in May 2010. In December 2010, project company JSC Akkuyu Nuclear was established in Ankara, which has assumed responsibilities for the design, construction, maintenance, operation, and decommissioning of the nuclear power plant.

On 13 October 2011, Turkey’s Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) granted JSC Akkuyu Nuclear a license to work on the site. In November 2013, the agency approved the updated Basic Site Report prepared by JSC Akkuyu Nuclear under the Site License applicable to the Akkuyu NPP construction of the installed capacity of 4,800MW.

On December 01, 2014 the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization approved the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) of the Akkuyu NPP project. On 15 June 2017, the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) issued JSC Akkuyu Nuclear a license to generate electricity. On February 09, 2017 the TAEK approved the parameters of the Akkuyu NPP site.

According to intergovernmental cooperation agreement, the commissioning of the first power unit should take place no later than seven years after the issuance of all necessary construction permits by the Republic of Turkey.