Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan took part in a videoconference ceremony to launch the construction of the third unit of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in the Mersin Province of Turkey.
During the videoconference ceremony to launch the construction of the third unit of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant.
The ceremony was also attended by CEO of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation Alexei Likhachev and Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Donmez.
The power plant is being built by Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation under an intergovernmental agreement signed in 2010. In all, the power plant will have four units with a total capacity of 4,800 MW.
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CEO of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation Alexei Likhachev: President Putin, President Erdogan,
You started the construction of the Akkuyu NPP, the first nuclear power plant in Turkey, three short years ago. Today, we are starting full-scale construction on the third unit.
I will briefly go over the milestones of this largely unparalleled project. An intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Turkey on building a nuclear power plant was signed on May 12, 2010. In 2017, the project was restarted with an intensive development effort.
From 2017 to 2019, key contracts and agreements were signed covering the supply of fuel, the purchase and sale of electricity, and connection to the national power grid of the Republic of Turkey.
The coronavirus pandemic came as a serious challenge for us all. However, despite tough quarantine restrictions, we managed to keep the construction active. For Rosatom, protecting the health of everyone involved in the construction – a multinational team – remains a priority.
President Putin, President Erdogan, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the government of the Republic of Turkey and the heads of the regions and districts for their full support of the Akkuyu project which allowed us to regularly send in rotational teams of Russian specialists to the construction site. We are also grateful to the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Labour for helping our employees with the special visa requirements.
To reciprocate, the Akkuyu Nuclear company took part in the initiative advanced by President Erdogan to support the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services amid the pandemic. We also helped medical institutions located near the construction site.
The threats from the pandemic are gradually receding, and the quarantine restrictions are being relaxed, which allows us to pick up a genuinely unprecedented pace in implementing the project. The foundations for the reactor building at the first and second units have been built, a melt trap has been installed based on the design, infrastructure is being built, and preparations are underway for the construction of a compound for the specialists who will work at the nuclear power plant.
This year, a number of key projects will be performed at the first power unit. In particular, the reactor pressure vessel will be assembled, the inner containment vessel tiers will be mounted on the second unit, and the melt trap will be installed at the third unit by the end of the year.
We are seeing continuous interest from Turkish businesses in this project. Over 400 Turkish companies are involved in the project. They deliver materials and equipment, render services and carry out various jobs. The value of the orders received by Turkish suppliers has already exceeded $2 billion.
What should we emphasise? The general contractor of the facility is a joint Russian-Turkish venture with equally divided shares, fifty-fifty. It has a high level of localisation. The large-scale involvement of Turkish companies in the project is facilitating the construction of a nuclear industrial cluster in Turkey, where Rosatom can cooperate on other projects.
This project is truly unique.
To begin with, today, the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is the largest nuclear construction site in the world. Three power units are being built simultaneously now.
Second, this is the world’s only nuclear power project built under the Build-Own-Operate (BOO) concept.
Third, we just celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8, and are still excited by the emotions of this holiday. Akkuyu is the world’s only NPP construction project that is headed by a woman, Rosatom’s Anastasia Zoteyeva.
Over 4,000 people will operate and maintain this nuclear power plant. Since nuclear power engineering is a new industry for Turkey, we immediately offered assistance for personnel training. Young specialists with Russian diplomas in nuclear education are joining the Akkuyu project team. In all, 143 young Turkish engineers are already working on the construction site and 107 students continue their studies in Moscow. This figure will be growing every year.
Let me emphasise that Rosatom is building this NPP in Turkey under a reference project. We are currently operating similar plants in our country, so Turkish specialists have the opportunity to study the equipment and structure in practice.
Ladies and gentlemen,
With consideration for sustainable development goals, Rosatom always remembers its social responsibility both in Russia and abroad. In this project, we are cooperating with education institutions in the Gulnar District and thevillage of Kocaeli.
They say in Turkey: “One stone cannot be a wall.” Likewise, the successful development of this Turkish nuclear project is the result of a concerted effort. Only by pooling efforts, with our national leaders, Turkish industry and the support of society will we be able to quickly and effectively build a nuclear power plant that will become one of the foundations of the republic’s energy security.
I would like to congratulate everyone on the start of the construction of the third power unit and thank the presidents for their personal attention to this issue.
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey Fatih Donmez (retranslated): President Erdogan, President Putin, Head of Rosatom Mr Likhachev, representatives of local municipalities and the media,
Welcome to the ground-breaking ceremony for the third power unit!
Today, we are marking another milestone in our project. The construction of this nuclear power plant is progressing at a fast pace. We are one step closer to the goal of building this nuclear power plant. I look forward to carrying out all the subsequent phases in conjunction with you after today’s phase is completed.
Turkey will be introduced to a whole new source of power. Led by President Erdogan, Turkey is rapidly moving towards new heights and horizons. Turkey’s energy capacity will greatly increase once this project is completed. Plans are also in place to increase energy efficiency, which is one of our key economic goals.
Notably, the contribution of imported technology will taper off due to wider use of local technologies and capabilities. Eventually, we would like to produce an uninterrupted supply of power regardless of the season and deliver it to all Turkish regions. This will help us avoid such negative incidents as power outages or failures.
President Erdogan has always made the point, and we support this approach, that minor details and Turkey’s needs must be taken into account when generating uninterrupted power and supplying it to the end customer, and when building nuclear power plants like this one. Thus, the construction and commissioning of this nuclear power plant will cut these risks in Turkey by 10 percent.
Here, I would also like to talk about the environment, namely, zero emissions. This NPP will be an eco-friendly operation. It will save 9 million hectares of forest. That is, our environmentally friendly approach will help preserve nature.
I would also like to mention the contribution to the employment situation. As you know, large numbers of people have been involved in this project, depending on its particular stage.
All the above will play a role not only in the power generating industry, but also in other sectors of our economy, such as the defence industry and the space industry. Other sectors of the Turkish national economy will also benefit from the opportunities that will become available thanks to this nuclear power plant.
We will try to create an appropriate foothold and a platform on a national basis for the experience that is necessary for the development of innovative technology. On a separate note, this represents excellent opportunities for Turkish youth.
I would like to convey my special thanks to President Erdogan and President Putin, as well as everyone involved in this project, such as government services, people and organisations.
I would like to thank all participants. I wish you prosperity and successful completion of this project.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
First of all, I would like to congratulate all of you on the start of one more important stage in the implementation of a large-scale joint Russian-Turkish project, the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Turkey.
In a few minutes, President Erdogan and I will launch the pouring of concrete into the foundation of the NPP’s third unit. In all, the Akkuyu NPP will have four units with reactors with a total capacity of 4,800 MW, which will be able to produce up to 37 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.
I clearly remember, as we already mentioned today, how Mr Erdogan and I took part in the ceremony to launch the construction of the first unit in April 2018. I would like to express satisfaction with the combined efforts of the Russian and Turkish professionals – nuclear experts, engineers and workers – which ensured the construction of the nuclear power plant in accordance with the agreed schedule. At the same time, we are dealing successfully with the most complicated design, assembly and technological objectives.
Even well-known difficulties linked with the coronavirus pandemic failed to hamper the consistent implementation of the Akkuyu project; we have also noted this today. I would like to point out that top-level onsite sanitary-epidemic safety and healthcare standards are maintained for employees directly involved in the project.
Turkey’s first Akkuyu NPP should start operating in 2023 when the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey will be celebrated. The Turkish leadership and Mr Erdogan set this task when this project was launched. We also attach great significance to this; the President of Turkey and we have agreed to continue providing the necessary assistance and support to the Akkuyu project.
We are certain that its implementation will make a serious contribution to strengthening the energy security of the Republic of Turkey, and that this will facilitate its subsequent economic growth. The project will provide Turkish consumers with inexpensive and environmentally friendly electricity.
A powerful boost will be given to the development in Turkey of an entirely new sector – the nuclear power industry, to strengthening the country’s research and production potential and to the creation of new jobs. By the way, over 8,000 people, mostly Turkish citizens, are currently working at the construction site.
Today, Rosatom operates a centre for training the future NPP’s technical personnel at Akkuyu. As has already been mentioned, Russian universities train nuclear engineers for Turkey. Over 100 Turkish students are currently studying in Russia, and they will eventually obtain jobs at the Akkuyu NPP. Over 200 Turkish students will graduate in 2021. So, there will be enough national specialists trained for the Turkish nuclear industry before the nuclear power plant goes on stream.
I would like to point out that Rosatom, as a recognised leader in peaceful nuclear development, is applying the most advanced engineering solutions and economically effective and reliable technology during the plant’s construction. At the same time, it also ensures the strictest safety and environmental standards.
I would like to note that the Russian side is actively engaging not only Russian but also Turkish professionals and businesses in the plant’s construction and subcontracting. The implementation of a considerable number of contracts necessary for the future plant has been localised in Turkey, which is yet further proof of the commercial advantages of this project for all parties.
In conclusion, I would like to express gratitude to our friend, the President of Turkey, for his initiative to hold a special ceremony for this event.
I would also like to thank all those involved in the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant and to once again express confidence that the successful implementation of this truly flagship project will not just advance our energy cooperation to a fundamentally new level but will also facilitate the further development of the multifaceted Russian-Turkish partnership and will help strengthen friendship and mutual understanding between our people.
I would like to wish all of you every success. Thank you.
President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (retranslated): Mr President, my dear friend, ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to convey my heart-felt greetings to all of you.
I would also like to thank the President of the Russian Federation, my dear friend Mr Putin for joining the ceremony for the launch of construction remotely. I would like to thank all of our guests for coming here and personally attending this ceremony.
Today we are experiencing well-deserved pride for what we have accomplished. Today we are launching the construction of the third power unit at the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). Now we will quickly move forward with this construction and start laying down the fourth unit. This strategic plan is aimed at diversifying Turkey’s energy supply.
Despite the impact of the coronavirus on the entire world, we continue to grow. Last year many countries faced a serious economic decline. Meanwhile, our economy grew by 2.7 percent. We believe this year our economic growth will be even higher.
Considering this economic growth, we must ensure stable energy supplies on beneficial terms. This is why we are striving to develop and increase the number of various energy projects. In this context, the efficiency of power engineering, green energy and renewable energy sources are very important. Renewable energy sources generate 63.7 percent of all energy in Turkey today. Thus, in the past few years, we have established 4 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of new generating capacity.
An independent power industry is our main objective in making Turkey strong. Probing and seismic studies conducted in the Eastern Mediterranean inspire us with hope.
Energy policy is of special importance for us, and our goal is to make electricity generation completely emission-free.
We want to add nuclear energy to our electricity generation mix. This NPP will provide us with additional opportunities in this respect. The plant’s construction provides jobs to 16,000 people. Once it is put into operation, it will provide permanent jobs for 4,000 people. Now, 186 of our students, who have received an education for six and a half years, have returned home and will work to develop the nuclear energy industry in Turkey. They will continue working for this benefit.
Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
We plan to bring the first reactor of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant online in 2023. The plant will eventually have four reactors. We are working day and night on all four reactors. In 2023, when we celebrate the centenary of the Republic of Turkey, it will become a “nuclear energy” country. Thus, 10 percent of all energy generation – 65 billion kWh – will be produced by the nuclear energy industry. To ensure the proper performance of our nuclear plant we must focus on it and take a comprehensive approach. We are doing this and confidently moving forward.
Needless to say, we are not compromising on safety in any way. The Akkuyu NPP will have all the necessary safety equipment. Our designs meet IAEA quality and safety standards.
As my colleague said, this is one of the symbols of cooperation between Russia and Turkey. We will continue developing new projects together. Both President Putin and I have shown a strong inclination for this cooperation.
Our dialogue concerns not only bilateral relations but is also aimed at ensuring security in the entire region. Russia and Turkey are conducting a dialogue on the issues of Karabakh and Syria. We have found opportunities for a common language and we are motivated to develop our dialogue.
Recently, there have been difficulties in tourism and economic performance due to the coronavirus, and if it is the will of Allah, we will manage to eliminate the harm this year. We want Russian tourists to travel here and in this context, we are being guided by considerations of safe travels.
I would like to thank Mr Putin in the first place and all those who contributed to implementing this project. I would like to thank our companies and departments, their executives and technical and administrative personnel for their contribution to this project. I want all this to be useful for everyone.
I would like to greet all of you with love and respect once again. Stay healthy!
Fatih Donmez: President Erdogan, President Putin. I am here with the directors of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, journalists, the people’s deputies, and executives from the Mayor’s office. Not all of them have been able to speak on the stage. Not all ministries or companies are personally represented here. But we are ready for the ceremony to launch the construction of the third unit. We are waiting for your instructions.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan: My dear friend, Mr Putin! Go ahead please.
Alexei Likhachev: Allow us to start the operation of the third generating unit at the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant.
Vladimir Putin: I am giving you the all-clear, go ahead!
Congratulations once again!
Recep Tayyip Erdogan: I hope to meet with my dear friend very soon.
Vladimir Putin: It’s a deal; we haven’t met for some time. We must do this soon.
Congratulations to you again!
All the best.