Russia’s Rosatom aims to start building Turkish nuclear plant by end of March

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A picture taken on June 28, 2016 shows the logo of Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom during the World Nuclear Exhibition in Le Bourget, near Paris. / AFP PHOTO / ERIC PIERMONT

Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom announced on Thursday that it aims to start construction of the Akkuyu nuclear plant in Turkey by the end of March next year.

Speaking with Reuters on Thursday, Kirill Komarov, Rosatom’s first deputy chief executive for corporate development and international business, said, “We hope to get a Turkish nuclear operating license at the beginning of next year and start with the first concrete by the end of Q1.”

Komarov said Rosatom was on course to sell 49 percent in the $20 billion Akkuyu nuclear plant project to a Turkish consortium by yearend and that there was strong support from Turkish authorities to make the project happen.

In June Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Agency (EPDK) approved Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) building the $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 normalized 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, the energy watchdog EPDK said in a statement.

The EPDK said it had given Rosatom’s project company Akkuyu Nukleer AS a 49-year production license.

Dependent on imports for almost all of its energy, Turkey has embarked on an ambitious nuclear program, 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.

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