21 Temmuz 2011 Perşembe

‘Nuclear plant can meet Cypriot energy demand’

Gökhan KURTARAN        Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

The construction of a nuclear plant in Northern Cyprus could help meet the island’s electricity demand, authorities say. Turkey is also working on an energy masterplan for Cyprus’ both sides, Turkish minister says.

Turkey’s bid to supply electricity for the whole of Cyprus has been based on two plans, building a nuclear plant on the island or laying underwater cables from Turkey, according to Turkey’s Chamber of Mechanical Engineers.

The claim has been certified by the Turkish Cypriot authority as well as the chamber.

Turkey has already set all the options on the table for meeting the energy needs of the island, Haluk Direşkeneli, a board member of the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers and head of its Energy Committee, said in a phone interview Tuesday.

“Russia’s barge-mounted nuclear power plant might be built in northern Cyprus,” he said, adding that such a facility would generate electricity “not only for the Turkish part [of the divided island], but also the Greek part.”

A nuclear plant on the island was also discussed in the Greek Cypriot parliament a few years ago, Direşkeneli said.

“Both options were mentioned in a recent master plan,” an official from the Turkish Cypriot Economy and Energy Ministry told the Hürriyet Daily News, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Turkey’s government is currently working on an energy master plan for the island,” said Direşkeneli, noting that Greek Cyprus was seriously struggling to provide electricity after a deadly blast at a military base last week knocked out the country’s main power plant.

The idea of a nuclear power plant in northern Cyprus was brought up at a seminar in the British Council’s Ankara office Jan. 16, 2007, with nearly 30 people in attendance, mainly from academic circles and interested “public and private enterprises,” Direşkeneli said.

Still, the political uncertainties and conflicts on the island would pose a strong challenge in building a nuclear plant there.

“There are almost no fossil-fuel resources; no oil, no gas, no coal on the island,” Direşkeneli said, noting that all fossil fuel to generate energy should be purchased abroad and transported by ferries to the island.
Another option to transfer energy to the island is laying underwater cables stretching from the southern Turkish province of Mersin to northern Cyprus, he added.

Turkey plans to build its first nuclear power station at Akkuyu, in Mersin, under a deal signed last year with the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation, or Rosatom. The Turkish government plans to start construction of three nuclear power plants within five years.

Despite the serious concerns expressed by Greece and Greek Cyprus about the power plant to be built in Akkuyu, “it would be in their best interest now,” according to Direşkeneli, as the plant could generate electricity for Greek Cyprus as well. “Current electricity supply difficulty might push Greek officials to reconsider joint projects with Turkish Cyprus,” he added.

Greek and Greek Cypriot officials have reacted negatively to Turkey’s nuclear plans. “We believe there should be a collective approach by the European Union in order to exert adequate pressure on Turkey to reconsider its plans,” Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias said at an EU summit in March.

After meeting his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Sunat Akın in Ankara on Monday, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said his ministry had prepared a wide-scale master plan for the island that would meet the energy needs of all of Cyprus by 2023.


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