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Turkey’s nuclear journey 7 novembre 2014

Posted by Acturca in Energy / Energie, Russia / Russie, Turkey / Turquie.
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Anadolu Agency (Turkey) Friday, November 7, 2014

By Nilay Kar Onum, Istanbul

As Turkey aims to rank among the world’s 10 biggest economies by 2023, Anadolu Agency investigates the rise of nuclear power in this energy-dependent country.

Nuclear power is rising higher on the agenda in energy-dependent Turkey as the country eyes three separate atomic projects.

Turkish experts claim it is « irreplaceable » in terms of sustainability but anti-nuclear campaigners say such power plants are not a magic solution to Turkey’s energy needs.

Last month, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the country plans to build a third nuclear power plant as a national project.

« We will build the plant by 2018-2019, when we have sufficiently qualified people to build it as a national project, » he said.

Further details about the plant, or its planned location, have not been published.

Turkey has already two ongoing nuclear power plant projects. A Russian-led consortium is to build one near Akkuyu in the southern province of Mersin, on the Mediterranean coast.

The agreement on the project was signed between Russia and Turkey in Ankara on May 12, 2010.

The country’s first plant will require $22 billion with construction beginning in 2016, with a life cycle of 60 years.

Expected to produce about 35 billion kilowatt-hours per year, the facility is scheduled to become fully operational in 2023, the 100-year anniversary of the Turkish Republic.

The second project will be built through Japanese-Turkish cooperation in Sinop, in the Black Sea region. The build-operate-transfer deal was signed between then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on May 3, 2013.

The plant in Sinop is expected to be operational by 2023.

« Our aim, as Turkey, is not only to have nuclear plants but also to have nuclear technology to build our own plant, » says Ilker Sert, Deputy Undersecretary at the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

As Turkey lacks primary resources, it is highly dependent on imported energy. According to the Ministry of Energy, imported-energy dependency is around 70%.

Describing the country’s nuclear projects as « historic », Sert says Turkey should have built the plants earlier: « It is unacceptable that we have not had these so far. »

Turkey’s nuclear efforts date back to 1950s but Sert says political reasons held back development efforts.

« The biggest reason for Turkey to be behind in nuclear energy is the unsteady administrations and short-term governments of 12 years ago, » Sert claims.

Sert maintains that Turkey’s renewable energy sources are not sufficient.

« We cannot meet the country’s annual electricity consumption – which will be 500 billion kilowatt hours in 2023 – through renewable sources, which are not continuous and are unable to generate large-scale energy. »

« If we use all of our renewable energy sources in full capacity in 2023, we will be able to generate 250 billion kWh- which will be half of our needs in that year. »

« How can we meet the other half? The most serious source to meet our needs is through nuclear energy, » Sert says.

Huseyin Onder, a spokesman for the Anti-Nuclear Platform, a non-governmental organization in Ankara, disagrees.

« The planned nuclear plants will not meet Turkey’s considerable needs, » Onder claims, saying the country would need 10 such facilities to generate its electricity requirements.

According to the latest edition of BP’s Energy Outlook, global energy consumption is expected to rise by 41 percent from 2012 to 2035 – compared to 30 percent over the last decade.

Greenpeace Climate and Energy campaigner Devin Bahceci suggests that Turkey should reconsider its energy policy.

« Renewable energy; solar power and wind are enough for Turkey. We just need to reconsider our energy policies and create more sustainable, localized energy solutions alongside with energy efficiency implementations, » he says.

Anti -nuclear campaigners also complain aboutnuclear safety.

« None of the nuclear plants in the world are 100% safe. Nuclear energy is risky and dirty. The Fukushima accident unfortunately proved that, » Bahceci states.

« For many years, the pro -nuclear community tried to convince the world by holding up Japan as an example fornuclear energy. We have seen in Fukushima that there are always great risks for the environment and human health, » he adds.

There have been three major reactor accidents in the history of civil nuclear power – Three Mile Island in the U.S. in 1979, Ukraine’s Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and Japan’s Fukushima crisis in 2011, according to the London-based World Nuclear Association.

One was contained without harm to anyone, the next involved an intense fire without provision for containment and the third severely tested containment, allowing some release of radioactivity.

However, proponents of nuclear power stress the importance of international safety standards.

« You cannot build a plant without complying with international standards, » says Niyazi Meric, director of the Institute of Nuclear Sciences of Ankara University.

« Nuclear plants are not just in one country’s interest … because when something goes wrong, it will threaten many countries. So it must be safe. »

« Protective containment » for a nuclear plant is crucial, says Adil Buyan, a coordinator for the Nuclear Technology Information Platform, an Ankara-based NGO, who also stresses importance of international standards.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which was set up in 1957 in Vienna, keeps an eye on the world’s nuclear facilities by « setting safety standards for its member states to promote secure and peaceful nuclear technologies. »

« If reactors have containment, then there is no risk to the environment or human health. As reactors at the Chernobyl plant had no such containment, the effects were bigger, » Buyan says.

« Turkey cannot build a plant without this containment due to the international standards. That’s why we should not worry about nuclear power. »

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