Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, signed a $22 bln deal on Turkey’s second nuclear plant project on May 3 in the Black Sea province of Sinop, ending months of speculation about the winning bidder for the plant.
Underlining the significance of the agreement as Japan’s first nuclear deal since the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Abe said safety would be the top priority for the project.
“We believe Japan will transfer its experiences and the lessons it learned from serious accidents to nuclear studies and will contribute to ensuring nuclear safety at the top level,” he said.
The consortium will also be responsible for the ground studies of Turkey’s third nuclear plant, which is slated to be built in a still-undetermined location.
The first unit of the nuclear plant is set to be active by 2023, while the last unit will come online by 2028. “We have 10 years now to make the nuclear plant active. I believe we can shorten this period together,” Erdoğan said.
Meanwhile, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said the government was working on plans to build the third plant after 2023. The prospective project should ideally be led by Turkish engineers, he added. “Our prime minister continually sets new goals ahead of us. Hopefully we will build the third nuclear plant under the management of Turkish engineers. This will be an important test for [them] and I think that we will be ready for the task after 2023.”
A Japanese-French alliance led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and France’s Areva will build Turkey’s second nuclear power plant, according to the deal.
The agreement brings together Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Itochu to build the plant, which is to have a capacity of around 4,800 megawatts, with the main operator France’s GDF Suez. The Turkish public sector will also have the share in the nuclear plant. The share of the Turkish Electricity Generation Corporation (EÜAŞ) will be 20-45 percent, following a goodwill agreement between Turkish and Japanese officials, sector experts told Reuters.
Four pressurized water nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of about 4.5 gigawatts will also be built. The consortium had proposed installing Areva’s Atmea reactors, which include the 1,100 MW-capacity Atmea1, Generation III and pressurized water reactors (PWR) developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Areva in their Atmea joint venture.
The Turkish second nuclear plant deal is the first major order for France and Japan since the meltdown of reactors at Fukushima in 2011 following an earthquake and tsunami.
Apart from China and Japan, Turkey had also been in talks with companies from Canada and South Korea on the planned Sinop plant. At first Japan participated in the race for Turkey’s second nuclear plant alone.
Two French companies had expressed their desire to participate in Turkey’s nuclear power plant project offer process, but Turkey rejected the attempts amid political disputes between the two countries stemming from a bill approved in the French Parliament making the denial of the Armenian “genocide” a punishable crime.
The disagreements cooled down only after the French Constitutional Court overturned the bill and François Hollande replaced Nicholas Sarkozy as French president. France’s GDF Suez was then allowed to join forces with the Japanese firm for the bid.