What are the key milestones of the project?
• In 2010, the Governments of the Russian Federation and Republic of Turkey signed the intergovernmental agreement on the cooperation in the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant at the southern coast of Turkey in Mersin Province, comprised of four power units with VVER-1200 reactors with a total capacity of 4800 MW. Shortly afterwards, AKKUYU NUCLEAR Joint-Stock Company was entitled with overall responsibility for the construction project.
• In 2014, the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Akkuyu NPP construction project.
• In 2018, the 'first-concrete' ceremony marked the official start of the Akkuyu NPP active construction phase with a live video participation of the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
• In 2019, the foundation slab concrete pouring of the reactor building of Akkuyu NPP Unit 1 was completed.
• In 2020, active construction works are already under way on Unit 1 and Unit 2 according to the construction licenses granted by the Turkish Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NDK).
Who is funding the construction of the NPP, and who will operate it?
Akkuyu NPP is the first project in the global nuclear industry being implemented using the Build-Own-Operate (BOO) model. AKKUYU NUCLEAR JSC is the project owner in charge of the NPP design, construction, maintenance, operation, and decommissioning. At present The Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom is the majority shareholder of the AKKUYU NUCLEAR JSC providing full financing for the Akkuyu NPP project implementation. In accordance with the Russia-Turkey intergovernmental agreement up to 49% of AKKUYU NUCLEAR shares can be sold to investors, and the negotiations with potential investors are currently in progress.
What are the arrangements for this BOO model?
The BOO model provides long-term sustainability and investment returns for project stakeholders. Under this model, the NPP supplier (Rosatom) is also the investor/co-investor and owner/co-owner of the NPP gaining returns on its investments during the NPP operation stage from electricity sales. Turkey will also receive incomes from the NPP operation during the entire NPP operation cycle currently estimated at 60 years according to referenced plants and can be extended. Apart from direct economic benefits the project will become the driver of growth for the region of NPP construction. It will stimulate jobs creation and localization programs development for Turkish suppliers. It will also lead to the development of nuclear education and bring many other positive effects for the Turkish national economy. The Akkuyu NPP project is an excellent opportunity to offer a turnkey NPP construction and operation solution to Turkey – a newcomer state to nuclear energy.
Can you explain the process for licensing with the Turkish regulator?
As it was agreed between the Governments of Russia and Turkey Rosatom undertakes to complete the construction and start operation of Akkuyu NPP Unit 1 within seven years after all the required licenses and permits are granted. The Turkish party agreed to provide support during the licensing stage, to provide title rights for the land, as well as provide for the permit documents’ execution.
In order to implement the project, AKKUYU NUCLEAR JSC is required to obtain about 120 different licenses and permits. Today, many of the key licenses and permits required for the project implementation have been obtained, including for the approval of the EIA, the license for electricity generation, the licenses for construction of the Units 1 and 2, as well as permit to use the Eastern Cargo Terminal and to operate the Marine Terminal facilities.
What is the plan to ensure the qualification and training of Turkish graduates to work on the site?
The Russian Federation has provided an opportunity for students from Turkey to obtain specialised education at Russian higher educational institutions by studying key professions and disciplines required at nuclear power plants. After they have also received education and training at the educational and technical centers of Rosatom, all graduates will get jobs at the first nuclear power plant in Turkey - Akkuyu NPP in Mersin Province. The total duration of the training will be about seven years.
Currently more than 120 Turkish students are obtaining specialist education at Russian universities. The Akkuyu NPP construction project needs young qualified personnel with a degree in the field of nuclear energy and related subjects, to work alongside more experienced nuclear professionals. The majority of these students and further intakes in the future will have an active role in delivering the project to build and operate the first nuclear power plant in Turkey.
What are the challenges and opportunities related to ensuring the hiring of staff with the right skills?
Today more than 6,000 people work at the Akkuyu NPP construction site. Both engineers and qualified workers are in demand during the construction phase. The employment of personnel available on the Turkish labour market is encouraged. However, there is a noticeable shortage of the nuclear industry experts in Turkey at this time. To address this, a specialized training centre to train engineering specialists and subsequent NPP operating personnel shall be built at the NPP site for training the plant personnel.
Construction is now under way, and in the forthcoming three-four years the scope and scale of the works will increase. Since the costs of personnel bringing from Russia or other countries are high a lot of job opportunities especially for the Turkish citizens are being created within such a large-scale project. Currently about 80% of the employees of the Akkuyu NPP construction site are Turkish.
Has it been determined what scope and level of support WANO will provide to the operator?
In 2019, AKKUYU NUCLEAR JSC prepared a three-year plan of co-operation with WANO Moscow Centre. Interaction under this plan is firstly intended to create good working relationships and to develop expertise within the operating teams, while safety assurance at all stages of the NPP life cycle remains the top priority.
In 2020-2021, the Moscow Centre will deliver six support missions focused in different areas of improvements for the Akkuyu NPP, such as production activity, basics of organisational efficiency, supervision and leadership, engineering support strategy. Akkuyu staff will participate in more than 40 seminars, working meetings, and partner visits held under the guidance of WANO.
Article based on an interview with Anastasia Gennadievna Zoteeva
Director-General of Akkuyu JSC