A ceremony marking the start of full-scale construction work on the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant took place in the Turkish province of Mersin on 3 April 2018. The ceremony was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan via videoconference.
Addressing those gathered at the ceremony, President Putin said: «The first power unit of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant is expected to be launched in 2023. Thanks to the Akkuyu project, new, modern, well-paying jobs will appear in Russia and Turkey [along with the development of] advanced production [capacities] and technology. The object will use advanced engineering solutions [and] cost-effective and reliable technologies. The highest safety standards and the most stringent environmental regulations will be observed. I am sure that, in 2023, all of Turkey will feel returns of the energy generated [at this] high-tech facility».
Turkish President Recep Erdogan, in turn, said that the 2023 launch of the nuclear power plant would coincide with the centenary of the Republic of Turkey. «With the commissioning of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in 2023, Turkey will join the family of countries with nuclear power. Akkuyu will meet 10% of all our electricity needs», he said.
After their opening statements, the leaders of the two countries signed off on the start of construction work and a symbolic button was pressed to mark the pouring of the «first concrete» into the base of the reactor building of power unit 1 of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant. More than 500 people attended the inauguration ceremony, including local residents, workers, schoolchildren, representatives of local government bodies, heads of participating ministries and departments, journalists, business partners, and Rosatom representatives. Also present were young Turkish graduates of Russian universities, namely those who earned their degrees just under a month ago and are expected to start work at the project company, JSC Akkuyu Nuclear, in the near future.
Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev commented: «Rosatom is building in Turkey a cutting edge, tried and tested («generation III+») nuclear power plant featuring four power units based on the Russian VVER-1200 design which meets the world’s highest safety standards. The model we are building at Akkuyu is already being built in a series. Unit 6 of Novovoronezh NPP and unit 1 of Leningrad NPP-2, based on the same design, are already up and running, with the former in a commercial operation and the latter launched in February. The safe and efficient operation of these units underscores the reliability of our technologies». Noting that the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is the largest joint project between Russia and Turkey, he added: «It is important to emphasise that the project is progressing according to plan in efficient cooperation with our Turkish partners».
On the eve of the ceremony, JSC Akkuyu Nuclear, the project operator, acquired a license for nuclear power plant construction from Turkey’s Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK). In late March, the project company also received permission to build the reactor building of the first power unit of the Akkuyu plant from the administration of the Gulnar district. The pouring of the ‘first concrete’ is an important stage of the implementation process, marking the transition to full-scale construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, including construction of the buildings and facilities constituting its ‘nuclear island’. Earlier, JSC Akkuyu Nuclear was designated strategic investor in Republic of Turkey. An updated strategic investment certificate was issued to the project company following its submission of an application to Turkey’s Ministry of Economy. In particular it provides tax reductions and exemptions (including from income tax and value added tax), as well as custom duties exemption.