Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) started general construction works at the future site of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, head of the company Alexei Likhachev said Tuesday.
Speaking to journalists at the 61st regular session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) general conference, Likhachev said that work on Turkey's first nuclear power plant project was underway, including the hydraulic facilities.
"Provided that we are working directly with the regulator in Turkey, we hope to get the license this year, but the construction works are already underway, so we are optimistic about the future," Likhachev said.
Earlier this month, Rosatom announced that the construction of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plan (NPP) could begin in early March 2018, at the end of the first quarter.
The first agreement on Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant was signed with Russia in 2010, when it was decided that Russia's state atomic energy corporation, Rosatom, would construct the facility. The plant will produce approximately 35 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year, once completed. The power plant will have a service life of 60 years.
The project 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.
Turkey's second nuclear power plant will be built by a French-Japanese consortium in Sinop, near the Black Sea.
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 amounting to about $50 billion annually and its energy demand among the fastest-growing in Europe, Ankara wants at least five percent of its electricity generation to come from nuclear energy in under a decade, cutting dependency on natural gas largely bought from Russia.