Nuclear energy in Turkey (04.07.2023)

• Turkey is heavily dependent on energy imports - nuclear power is intended to reduce these dependencies in a low-carbon way.

• At the Akkuyu site, there are currently four reactor units under construction; the first unit is to be commissioned in 2025, the three others successively by 2028. Talks are currently being held on the construction of further NPPs.


Status quo of power generation

Turkey's strong economic and population growth over the last three decades has led to a sharp increase in energy demand. In 2020, Turkey produced approximately 304 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, which is five times as much as in 1990. The largest share of this (56 percent) was generated from fossil fuels. Electricity production from renewable energies amounted to 42 percent. In 2020, the installed power plant capacity for electricity generation was 95.9 gigawatts (GW) - almost 5 GW more than in 2019.

KKW und Strommix Türkei
KKW und Strommix Türkei

Political and legal framework

In Türkiye`s International Energy Strategy, nuclear power is explicitly listed as a "fundamental element". Its role in sustainable and climate-friendly electricity and energy production is emphasised: "Türkiye aims to add nuclear power into its energy mix in order to decrease negative environmental effects of energy production, to meet its growing demand as well as to reduce its dependency on energy imports." The construction of nuclear power plants at three sites in Turkey is planned, some more concrete than others.

Map of Turkey
Landkarte Türkei

Current plans and projects

Large NPPs. Since 2018, the Akkuyu nuclear power plant (NPP) has been under construction on the Mediterranean coast. Once completed, four VVER-1200 reactors of the type V-509 will produce electricity here. The plant is being built by the Akkuyu Nuclear Joint-Stock Company, which was founded for this purpose and which will subsequently own, operate and one day dismantle the NPP. The company is currently 100 per cent owned by Rosatom. In the long term, at least 51 per cent of the company's shares are to remain in the possession of the Russian state-owned enterprise.

A look at the construction site of the nuclear power plant Akkuyu
© Rosatom
Baustelle KKW Akkuyu

Unit 1 of the Akkuyu NPP is expected to be commissioned in 2025. The three remaining units, which are already all in different phases of construction, are to follow successively until 2028.

A feasibility study was completed in 2018 for a further nuclear power plant at the Sinop site, the results of which did not match the original terms either in terms of costs or the project schedule. This means that, as things stand today, the project is not feasible (according to the specifications). The environmental impact assessment has been completed, but the application for site approval is still pending. According to consistent media reports, talks between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin took place at the end of October 2022, in which Turkey asked Russia to build four reactor units at the Sinop site. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2024.

For the third potential new build project, investigations of possible sites are currently underway according to defined acceptance and exclusion criteria for site selection. In parallel, negotiations are underway with potential international technology providers. For example, at the end of January 2023, the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) submitted a preliminary proposal to Turkey for the construction of four APR-1400s at an undisclosed location in the north of the country. Further discussions on the construction of new plants are being held with China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation and Westinghouse.

SMR. Turkey intends to develop a liquid salt reactor with thorium-containing nuclear fuel. For this purpose, membership in the International Forum for Generation IV Reactors (GIF) was applied for in 2019. Turkey is one of the countries with proven large thorium deposits.

Furthermore, in 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Rolls-Royce and the Turkish state-owned power generation company EUAS to conduct a study to evaluate the use of small modular reactors (SMRs) in Turkey. Three key aspects are taken as a basis by Turkey in connection with SMR projects: a valid design approval, a reference plant, and low investment.

Research reactor

Turkey has one operating TRIGA MARK II research reactor, located at the Çekmece Nuclear Research and Training Center (ÇNAEM) in Istanbul.

Uranium and thorium deposits

Besides large thorium resources that could be used in a liquid salt reactor, the country has smaller uranium deposits. The contract between Rosatom and Turkey for Akkuyu also provides for the construction of a fuel fabrication plant in Turkey.