Turkey to sign deal with China for building new nuclear plant
Should the deal materialize, China will contribute to the construction of Turkey's third nuclear power plant.
Turkey and China are on the brink of finalizing a potential contract for the construction of a new nuclear power plant. This move is part of Turkey's strategy to reduce its reliance on oil and gas imports.
Turkish Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar revealed that negotiations are expected to conclude "in the coming months." Chinese officials have already visited the prospective plant site, located near the borders of Bulgaria and Greece.
During a recent press conference, Bayraktar stated, "We've been engaged in extensive discussions with a Chinese company for a considerable duration," and he expressed confidence that any remaining differences would not be significant obstacles. He added, "Therefore, we anticipate bridging the gaps and reaching an agreement with China for the nuclear power program soon."
If the deal does go through, China would aid in building what will count as Turkey’s third nuclear power plant - the first being under construction by Russia on the Mediterranean coast, and the second on the Black Sea coast is currently in the planning stage.
Sino-Turk cooperation for the win
Bayraktar did reveal that Russia’s Rosatom and South Korean firms are expressing interest in building the second plant, but Turkey is seeking local participation more.
The potential deal would be considered a commercial victory for China as its nuclear industry failed to entice international buyers for its Hualong-1 reactor, and it is currently negotiating with countries like Argentina and Saudi Arabia for more sales, but Pakistan remains the only foreign country operating the reactor.
Bayraktar believes that Turkey’s ultimate objective is to increase electricity output from nuclear power to 20 gigawatts, which is almost four times what the Akkuyu plant can generate when it’s fully operational in a few years. To achieve that, Turkey will most likely need an additional capacity of 5 gigawatts from small modular reactors, known as SMRs, per the minister.
“We’d like to create a broader nuclear ecosystem in Turkey,” Bayraktar said. “We need nuclear for a successful energy transition toward 2050,” which is when Turkey expects its $1 trillion economy to be carbon neutral.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized that the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) project in Turkey holds strategic significance for Russia and Turkey, fostering the growth of economic and neighborly relations between the two nations.
He emphasized that "this is a flagship project, it brings both mutual economic benefits and certainly contributes to strengthening the multifaceted partnership between our two states, which is based on the principles of good neighborliness, mutual respect for and consideration of each other's interests."