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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Powering the Future: Turkey and China Close in on Nuclear Plant Deal

Turkey and China are making significant strides in their discussions regarding the construction of a nuclear power plant in eastern Thrace, with the potential for a finalized deal within a few months, according to Turkish Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar. Senior Chinese government officials have already visited the proposed construction sites in eastern Thrace, marking a crucial step toward finalizing the agreement.

Bayraktar expressed optimism about the negotiations, stating, “We have reached a pivotal stage in our discussions, and we anticipate reaching a conclusive agreement with China for the nuclear power program in the near future. While there are other interested parties, we have made considerable progress in our negotiations, and our differences are not insurmountable.”

A separate source confirmed that a delegation, including China’s National Energy Administration Vice Administrator He Yang and State Power Investment Corporation Senior Vice President Lu Haongzao, conducted an inspection of the Thrace area.

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Turkey’s nuclear ambitions extend beyond its talks with China. Russia is currently constructing a power plant in Akkuyu, which is set to partially operate next year, and ongoing discussions involve South Korea and Moscow for the development of a second plant in Sinop.

Additionally, Turkey is open to collaborating on small modular reactors (SMRs) with the UK, US, and France, with a focus on projects that are licensable, ensuring they meet rigorous testing, security, commercial, and local production standards.

Bayraktar emphasized Turkey’s goal of generating 20 gigawatts of power from nuclear plants in the future, with the potential addition of five gigawatts from small modular reactors. The Akkuyu power plant has already made significant contributions to Turkey’s economy and energy sector, with a notable 47 percent local contribution to the $4.3 billion project and a workforce consisting of 80 percent Turkish employees.

Once the Akkuyu plant is fully operational, approximately 4,000 personnel will run it, and the Turkish government aims for at least 30 percent of them to be Turkish citizens. Turkey has also invested in nuclear engineering training, sending 317 students to Russia for education in the field and implementing new programs at Istanbul’s universities and high schools.

Bayraktar underscored the government’s commitment to increasing localization and involving small to medium-sized countries in future nuclear power plant projects.

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