As it is preparing to commission the first reactor for the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in southern Mersin province in 2023, Turkey has also been focusing on raising the quality of its workforce tailored to work in the plant.
With this goal in mind, another 43 Turkish nuclear engineers graduated Tuesday from a Russian university they had been sent to in order to further their education as the country has been constructing the NPP in cooperation with Russian partners.
By accelerating the work being done at Akkuyu NPP, Ankara hopes to provide more local and renewable energy resources within the scope of its National Energy and Mining Policy.
The graduates received their diplomas within the framework of Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez's training program designed to create a qualified workforce to be deployed in the field of nuclear energy. Students in the program receive 6 1/2 years of training at the Moscow Institute of Nuclear Physics and Engineering (MEPhl) campuses, known as the heart of nuclear energy, in Moscow and Obninsk, a city home to the world's first nuclear electricity plant.
In 2010, an intergovernmental agreement was signed between Russia and Turkey to build the Akkuyu NPP. Following the agreement, Turkish students were chosen based on exam results and interviews, from various Turkish universities, including Middle East Technical University (METU), Boğaziçi University, Istanbul Technical University (ITU) and Karadeniz Technical University (KTU).
The students study the Russian language for one year before beginning 5 1/2 years of specialized training with other students from various countries under similar initiatives.
Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) of Saint Petersburg was also included in the program in 2015.
Some 35 students sent from Turkey graduated in 2018 from the MEPhl, while 53 graduated in 2019 and 55 in 2020. The total number of graduates has now reached 186, with 58 students due to complete their training in 2022.
Forty-seven students were also sent to SPbPU between 2019 and 2020 for master’s degrees. Twenty-two are set to graduate this year, and the rest will graduate next year. Twenty-five more students will be sent to the same program later this year.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin presided over the NPP's groundbreaking ceremony held on April 3, 2018, via videoconference.
The concrete work on the bases of the reactor and turbine buildings of the second power unit of the plant was completed in September and a construction license was granted for the third unit in November. The plant will have four VVER-1200 power reactors with a total installed capacity of 4,800 megawatts (MW).