As the campaigns for the June 24 elections continue at full speed with vows and promises for new projects, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has targeted two nuclear power plant projects – one already being constructed in the country's south. CHP Vice Chair Gülizar Biçer Karaca said the party would cancel the Akkuyu and Sinop nuclear power plant projects within the framework of international liabilities for environmental purposes if the party takes power. Turkey had been dreaming of building nuclear power plants since 1955 but could not realize any project until 2010 when an agreement for the first nuclear power plant was signed with Russia.
In a bid to expand the share of domestic resources and decrease dependency on imported energy resources that cost Turkey $55 billion annually, the country embarked on a nuclear program with the first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu in the southern province of Mersin.
Contracted to Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, with Turkish partners holding a 49 percent stake in the project, construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) began with a groundbreaking ceremony with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in attendance on April 3.
The Turkish firms in the project are expected to create an added value of $6 billion to $8 billion for the economy. At an estimated cost of $20 billion, the Akkuyu NPP is the single-largest investment project ever in Turkey.
To be complete by 2023 to mark the centennial of the Republic of Turkey, the Akkuyu NPP will produce about 35 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power annually.
The project will initiate a nuclear industry serving projects in health, telecommunications, defense and agriculture industries.
An intergovernmental agreement on nuclear power plant construction and cooperation for the Sinop Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), the other nuclear power plant project in Turkey, was signed with Japan.
As stipulated by the agreement, the Turkey Electricity Generation Company (EÜAŞ) will hold a 49 percent stake in the plant, while a Japanese and French company will have 30 and 21 percent stakes, respectively. The project's estimated cost is more than $16 billion according to Japanese sources. The Sinop NPP will have 4,480-MW capacity of electricity generation with four reactors - each having a 1,120-MW capacity.
About 11 percent of world electricity is generated by some 450 nuclear power reactors, and some 60 more reactors are under construction, equal to 16 percent of the existing capacity; while an additional 150-160 are planned, equal to nearly half the existing capacity, according to the World Nuclear Association. In 2016, France, which has 58 operating reactors, topped the list of countries that generate electricity from nuclear power at 72.3 percent. Slovakia ranked second, generating 54.1 percent of its total electricity from nuclear power plants. Nuclear power as a share of electricity in Ukraine, Belgium and Hungary, respectively, corresponded to 52.3, 51.7 and 40 percent of each country's total electricity generation.
Karaca's statement was released on the occasion of June 5, World Environment Day, and cited environmentalist sentiments while strongly opposing Turkey's nuclear strategy.
The CHP's presidential candidate Muharrem İnce previously said that he sees Turkey's indigenous car project as a waste of time and will not continue the project. He also stressed that if elected he will not embark on the Kanal Istanbul project, which aims to create a safe alternative waterway linking the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The project is estimated to cost TL 65 billion ($15 billion).
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