Nuclear Power in Turkey

(Updated December 2017)

  • Turkey has had plans for establishing nuclear power generation since 1970. Today, plans for nuclear power are a key aspect of the country's aim for economic growth.
  • Recent developments have seen Russia take a leading role in offering to finance and build 4800 MWe of nuclear capacity.
  • Construction start for the first plant, at Akkuyu, is expected in 2018.
  • A Franco-Japanese consortium is to build the second nuclear plant, at Sinop.
  • China is in line to build the third plant, with US-derived technology.
  • A small uranium mining project is planned.


Planned Nuclear Power Plants in Turkey map


Turkey imports much of its energy – an estimated 75% in 20151. Improving energy efficiency and energy security are high priorities. About 56% of its gas and 11% of its oil come from Russia2, and in February 2016 Gazprom arbitrarily increased the gas price by 10.25% regardless of contracts, and cut supply when Turkish firms declined to pay the extra.

Turkey in 2015 produced 262 TWh of electricity, 99 TWh from natural gas, 76 TWh from coal, 67 TWh from hydro, and 12 TWh from solar and wind. Both imports and exports of electricity were low at 7 TWh and 3 TWh respectively, and about 17% of production was lost during transmission. Consumption in 2015 came to 215 TWh or about 2700 kWh per capita on average3. Total installed capacity was about 81 GWe as of July 20174.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (EKTB), 2016 consumption was 278 TWh, and in its base scenario the EKTB predicts that consumption will rise to 357 TWh by 20234. Plans for nuclear power are a key aspect of the country's aim for economic growth, and it aims to cut back its vulnerable reliance on Russian and Iranian gas for electricity. The state generation company is Elektrik Uretim AS (EUAS).

Plans are to have 30 GWe of coal-fired capacity by 2023, along with 4.8 GWe of nuclear capacity. However, much of the country’s coal resources are lignite with low calorific value – less than 12.5 MJ/kg – and a substantial amount (Afsin Elbistan) at less than 5 MJ/kg (one-quarter of typical steam coal) with high sulfur.

Turkey’s Strategic Plan for 2019 was to increase hydroelectric capacity from 25 GWe to 32 GWe, wind capacity from 5 GWe to 10 GWe, geothermal capacity to 700 MWe, solar capacity to 3 GWe, and biomass capacity to 700 MWe. Renewables will be supported by feed-in tariffs and other mechanisms. Natural gas share of electricity generation is planned to drop from 44% to 38%, and coal to increase from 40 to 60 TWh by 2019. The country’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan set out by the ETKB aims to boost the share of renewables in the energy mix to 30% by 2023, adding 61 GWe to enable secure energy supply and reduce carbon emissions. This means adding 34 GWe of hydropower, 20 GWe of wind, 5 GWe of solar, 1 GWe of geothermal, and 1 GWe of biomass capacity. The plan will be assisted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

A major purge of state employees in the last half of July 2016 raises doubts about many of the energy plans.

Nuclear power developments in Turkey

Several nuclear power projects have been proposed: in 1970 a feasibility study concerned a 300 MWe plant; in 1973 the electricity authority decided to build a 80 MWe demonstration plant but didn’t; in 1976 the Akkuyu site on the eastern Mediterranean coast near the port of Mersin was licensed for a nuclear plant; and in 1980 an attempt to build several plants failed due to a lack of government financial guarantee.

In 1993 a nuclear plant was included in the country's investment program following a request for preliminary proposals in 1992, but revised tender specifications were not released until December 1996. Bids for a 2000 MWe plant at Akkuyu were received from Westinghouse + Mitsubishi, AECL, and Framatome + Siemens. Following the final bid deadline in October 1997, the government delayed its decision no less than eight times between June 1998 and April 2000, when plans were abandoned due to economic circumstances.

Early in 2006 the province of the port city of Sinop on the Black Sea was chosen to host a commercial nuclear power plant. This has the advantage of cooling water temperatures about 5 degrees C below those at Akkuyu, allowing about 1% greater power output from any thermal unit. A 100 MWe demonstration plant was to be built there first, then 5000 MWe of further plants to come into service from 2012. Some kind of public-private partnership was envisaged for construction and operation.

In August 2006 the government said it planned to have three nuclear power plants total 4500 MWe operating by 2012-15. Discussions had been under way with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd regarding two 750 MWe CANDU units as an initial investment. These and the PWR type were apparently preferred. The first units of some 5000 MWe total were to be built at Akkuyu, since the site was already licensed, but licensing was also proceeding for Sinop.

In November 2007 a new law concerning Construction and Operation of Nuclear Power Plants and Energy Sale (of their electricity) was passed by parliament and subsequently approved by the President. The bill provided for the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) to set the criteria for building and operating the plants. The Turkish Electricity Trade & Contract Corporation (TETAS) would then buy all the power under 15-year contracts. The bill also provided for public institutions to build the plants if other offers are not satisfactory. It also addressed waste management and decommissioning, providing for a National Radioactive Waste Account (URAH) and a Decommissioning Account (ICH) which generators would pay into progressively at USD 0.15 c/kWh. The OECD Paris and Brussels Conventions on third party accident liability would apply.

Immediately subsequent to this law, Criteria for Investors who will Construct and Operate Nuclear Power Plants, and regulations were published. IAEA safety standards apply.

In May 2008 a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the USA entered into force, in June 2010 a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea was signed, and in April 2012 two such agreements with China were signed.

In November 2013 the IAEA conducted an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) in Turkey to assess the country’s progress in preparing for the new nuclear power program. It reported positively but recommended completing a national policy on nuclear energy, strengthening the regulatory body, and developing a national plan for human resource development.

Planned and Proposed Nuclear Power Reactors

  Type MWe gross Start construction Start operation
Akkuyu 1 VVER-1200 1200 March 2018 2023
Akkuyu 2 VVER-1200 1200 2019 2023
Akkuyu 3 VVER-1200 1200 2020 2024
Akkuyu 4 VVER-1200 1200 2021 2025
Sinop 1 Atmea1 1150   2023
Sinop 2 Atmea1 1150   2024
Sinop 3 Atmea1 1150   ?
Sinop 4 Atmea1 1150   ?
Igneada 1-4 AP1000x2,

In addition to the units listed above, the government has announced intentions for two further nuclear power plants with four reactors each, all to be operational by 2030.


TETAS called for tenders in March 2008, inviting bids for the first nuclear power plant at Akkuyu, near the port of Mersin in Mersin province on the eastern Mediterranean coast. TAEK issued specifications, allowing for PWR, BWR or PHWR types of at least 600 MWe and with 40-year service life. Design certification in country of origin was acceptable, allowing TAEK to concentrate on site-specific aspects of the 4800 MWe project. In the event, only one bid was received from 14 interested parties, this being from Atomstroyexport in conjunction with Inter RAO (both from Russia) and Park Teknik (Turkey), for an AES-2006 power plant with four 1200 MWe reactors. After some deliberation, TAEK found that it met technical criteria. (It was later reported that TAEK required foreign vendors to take back used fuel, and none except ASE were prepared to do so.)

Following commercial advice from TETAS, a government decision was expected in April 2009, but in fact only a series of statements resulted, regarding the cost of power over the first 15 years being too high. Then in August 2009 two agreements between TAEK and Rosatom were signed with much fanfare. One was a nuclear cooperation agreement, the other was a standard one on the early notification on a nuclear accident and the exchange of information on nuclear facilities. These progressed the possibility of a Russian nuclear project at Akkuyu, probably with 25% government equity to dampen the likely electricity price rise. The first reactor was expected to come online in 2016, and others in 2017, 2018 and 2019. However, following a ruling by the country's top legal body, TETAS cancelled the Atomstroyexport agreement and said that a new tender would be launched soon. Instead, the parties proceeded to a direct high-level agreement.

In May 2010 Russian and Turkish heads of state signed an intergovernmental agreement for Rosatom to build, own and operate (BOO) the Akkuyu nuclear power plant of four 1200 MWe AES-2006 units as a US$ 20 billion project. This will be its first foreign plant on that BOO basis. Rosatom, through Atomstroyexport and Inter RAO UES, will finance the project and start off with 100% equity in the Turkish Akkuyu project company set up to build, own, operate and decommission the plant. Longer-term, Rosatom entities intend to retain at least 51% of the company. The Turkish firm Park Teknik and state generation company Elektrik Uretim AS (EUAS) were expected to take up significant shares. In May 2013 Rosatom invited EdF to become an equity partner in the project, but EdF declined. Meanwhile, EUAS transferred the site to the project company.

In July 2010 parliament ratified the May agreement for 4800 MWe at Akkuyu, and in November the Russian parliament ratified it. The project company was registered in December 2011 as Akkuyu Nuclear JSC (Akkuyu Nukleer Santral/NGS Elektrik Uretim AS) in 2011, with full Russian equity.* In October 2013 Rusatom Overseas was made responsible for the main Russian involvement in the project, as majority owner through JSC Rusatom Energy International, and manager. A 49% non-Russian strategic investor was sought, and this was taken up in mid-2017 by a consortium of three Turkish companies: Cengiz Holding, Kolin Construction and JSC Kalyon Construction, each to hold 16.33%, subject to approval by the Turkish government and the energy regulator EPDK. The financial details and shareholder agreement are expected to be finalised by the end of 2017. The three Turkish companies have all been involved in other energy projects and are the leading sellers and distributors in the Turkish electricity market. "The combination of such strong shareholders will lead to a great synergetic effect in the implementation of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project," Rosatom said. Cengiz Holding is already involved as a contractor for the project.

* By mid-2012 the equity position was Rosenergoatom concern 92.85%, InterRAO UES 3.47%, Atomstroyexport 3.47%, and 0.1% each for Atomenergoremont and Atomtechenergo. In February 2015 Russia's Inter RAO said it would not participate in an authorized capital share issue of JSC Akkuyu Nuclear and would decrease its shares in the company from 1.15% to 0.5%. The equity position then was: Rusatom Overseas (64.96%), Rosenergoatom (30.66%), AtomStroyExport (3.17%), Atomenergoremont (0.03%) and Atomtechenergo (0.03%).

Late in 2012 JSC Akkuyu NPP quoted the cost as $18.7 billion, and in December Russia's President announced that Russia would fully finance the project to more than $20 billion. Turkey's prime minister said that the equity capital of JSC Akkuyu NPP would be increased to $2.4 billion, and the overall investment in the project would total $22 billion. Rusatom will supply the fuel.

TETAS will buy a fixed proportion of the power at a fixed price of US$ 12.35 cents/kWh for 15 years. The proportion will be 70% of the output of the first two units and 30% of that from units 3&4 over 15 years from commercial operation of each. The remainder of the power will be sold by the project company on the open market. After 15 years, when the plant is expected to be paid off, the project company will pay 20% of the profits to the Turkish government. (These sovereign guarantees are not on offer for the Sinop plant.)

The project company (Akkuyu Nuclear JSC) was to apply for all licences within 12 months, and the first reactor is to be online within seven years of receiving these, with the others to follow at one-year intervals. By mid-2012 Rosatom said that the cost could be $25 billion. In December 2011 the project company had filed applications for construction permits and a power generation licence. In mid-2012 the company had received a site licence, and it let the first major contract for site works in February 2013. Another site licence was received in January 2014. A revised environmental impact assessment (EIS) was re-submitted in July 2014 – the fourth time, and approved at the end of November. A report on site design parameters was then submitted to TAEK. The Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) granted a 36-month preliminary licence for the project in June 2015, allowing for some preparatory activities and permits pending the production licence. TAEK approved design parameters for the site in February 2017. In March 2017 the project company applied to TAEK for a construction licence, which is expected in March 2018, after a limited work permit meanwhile, allowing start of construction on non-nuclear parts of the plant. The energy regulator EPDK issued a power generation licence for the 4.8 GWe plant in June 2017, for 49 years.

Atomstroyexport is general contractor for construction. Early in 2017 the energy minister suggested 2017 start. In June 2016 Rosatom said that construction would start in 2018. In August 2016 the government said that it would classify the project as a strategic investment, allowing favourable tax treatment. In May 2017 both national leaders reaffirmed commitment to the project.

The energy regulator EPDK issued a power generation licence for the 4.8 GWe plant in June 2017, for 49 years. In August the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) completed a site and external event design (SEED) review of the project, and in October 2017 the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority granted a limited construction permit, allowing start of construction on non-nuclear parts of the plant. Rosatom began construction of non-nuclear parts in December 2017.


Since February 2008 preparatory work has been under way at Sinop on the Black Sea coast to build a second nuclear plant there, along with a €1.7 billion nuclear technology centre. A 5000-5600 MWe nuclear plant there is expected to cost about $22-25 billion. However, the same sovereign guarantees as at Akkuyu regarding power offtake are not included.

In May 2013 the government accepted the proposal from a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Areva, with Itochu, which proposed four Atmea1 reactors with total capacity of about 4800 MWe at a cost of some $22 billion. An intergovernmental agreement was then signed with Japan for “exclusive negotiating rights to build a nuclear power plant”, and in October 2013 an official agreement at prime ministerial level was signed for the project. This was ratified by parliament in March 2015 and provides for 70% loan financing, 30% equity.* EUAS intended to take a 35% stake in the project company, with the balance shared among Mitsubishi, Itochu and GdF Suez (now Engie). MHI said it planned to take 15%, and it expected the same for Itochu and 21% for Engie. By May 2015 EUAS was intending 49% equity. Engie, which operates seven nuclear reactors in Belgium, is to be the operator. Government sources have described it as a build-operate-transfer (BOT) arrangement.

* Earlier negotiations included a March 2010 agreement signed between Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) and EUAS for Kepco to prepare a bid to build the plant at Sinop, with four APR-1400 reactors starting operation from 2019. The bid, in conjunction with local construction group Enka Insaat ve Sanayi, was due in August. Kepco was to take 40% equity in the plant, and would help with financing. However, this proposal foundered due to the Kepco insistence on receiving electricity sales guarantees from the government, rather than from TETAS as at Akkuyu.

Japan then indicated its interest in negotiating to build the 5600 MWe plant, and in December 2010 signed an agreement to prepare a bid for it, with a more definitive agreement expected in March 2011. Toshiba and Tepco were involved with the proposal, using four 1350 MWe ABWR units. However talks were suspended at Japan's request following the Fukushima accident, and Tepco has since opted out. Subsequent reports suggested a possible bid by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with Kansai, which operates 11 PWRs, and using APWR units. In March 2012 Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that progress continued towards a nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan.

In April 2012 Canada’s Candu Energy signed an agreement with the EUAS to undertake a six-month study on building a 3000 MWe plant at Sinop. In March 2013 the energy minister said that they had withdrawn from the process.

A feasibility study was due for completion in mid-2017, and the announced timeline was for construction start in 2017 and operation from 2023. These are likely to be the first Atmea1 units built. They would be designed for load-following and use the same steam generators as Areva’s large EPR (but three instead of four). Cost is projected at $4.89 billion each. MHI has set up a new business unit, the Turkey Nuclear IPP Development Department, to handle the feasibility study, negotiate contracts, prepare financing and undertake other functions in Turkey. In April 2014 an intergovernmental agreement was signed with Japan for development of the plant. MHI will lead the engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) consortium.


There are plans to build further nuclear capacity at another site, as part of 100 GWe required by 2030. TAEK has identified Igneada in Kirklareli province on the Black Sea, 12 km from the Bulgarian border, and this was confirmed in October 2015. Akcakoca between it and Sinop was also considered. Ankara – with low seismic risk – and Tekirdag on the northwest coast of the Sea of Marmara had also been mentioned as possible sites. When agreement for the development of the Sinop plant was to have been finalised, the energy ministry was to announce the site for the third plant with an invitation for expressions of interest to be issued by the end of 2013. This didn't happen and in October 2014 the prime minister said that the project would be substantially indigenous, with construction start about 2019.

In November 2014 EUAS signed an agreement with the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) of China and Westinghouse to begin exclusive negotiations to develop and construct a four-unit nuclear power plant in Turkey. No site was specified. As well as Westinghouse-based passive reactor technology - two AP1000 and two CAP1400, the agreement also covers all lifecycle activities including operations, nuclear fuel, maintenance, engineering, plant services and decommissioning. SNPTC was the agent introducing Westinghouse AP1000 technology into China, and has developed it further to the CAP1400. Eight AP1000 units are under construction in China and the USA, and the first CAP1400 is due to start construction at Shidaowan in China.

Uranium and fuel cycle

Turkey has modest uranium resources. The Temrezli deposit in the central Anatolian region 220 km east of Ankara was discovered by the Department of Energy, Raw Material and Exploration (MTA) in the early 1980s. MTA continued to explore the region for the next 10 years. Regional towns of Yozgat and Sorgun are nearby.

US-based Uranium Resources Inc. (URI) is planning to develop the Temrezli ISL mine. Australian-based Anatolia Energy Ltd* had a 100% interest in 18 exploration licences which included the Temrezli project. Project activities were undertaken by A Dur Madencilik Ltd (Adur), a wholly-owned subsidiary. In June 2015 URI took over Anatolia Energy Ltd.**

* Anatolia Uranium Pty Ltd (AUL) had 65% ownership of the Temrezli project, with parent company Anatolia Energy directly holding 35%. AUL was an incorporated JV but ownership was rationalised in 2012-13. In February 2014 Azarga Resources, parent company of Powertech Uranium, increased its holding to a 15% share in Anatolia Energy.

** In June 2015 Anatolia announced a merger with Colorado-based URI, with uranium projects in Texas. It is technically a takeover, so that the Turkish projects will be under URI, which will contribute experienced staff and a treatment plant.

A preliminary economic assessment of the Temrezli ISL uranium project was published in June 2013 and updated in May 2014, based on NI 43-101 figures. It found that costs would compare favourably with other (US) ISL projects. Measured resources at Temrezli are 2351 tU, indicated resources are 2004 tU, and inferred resources 732 tU, at 0.117%U, 0.092%U, and 0.075%U respectively at the end of 2013. The Ministry of Energy & Natural Resources has awarded a production licence for the project, and a pre-feasibility study was completed in February 2015. With initial capital cost of $41 million, 3800 tU could be recovered over 12 years at $16.89/lb U3O8, giving project payback in less than one year. Subject to finance, a development decision was expected, but in 2016 the project was put on standby pending market improvement.

URI commenced a pre-feasibility optimization study of the Temrezli ISL project in 2015, and expects to complete this late in 2016. It is also pushing forward on permitting-related issues, and preparing to move the Rosita treatment plant from Texas to Temrezli. The company expects project approvals from the government by mid-2017, so that an investment decision can be made and construction can then begin.

URI’s Sefaatli uranium project has significant uranium mineralisation discovered in the 1980s, and an intensive drilling program on the Delier prospect is defining resources. Tulu Tepe is also prospective in that project area, 5 km southwest of Delier. A third prospect is Akcami, 2 km west of Tulu Tepe. The three cover 15 sq km. Sefaatli may be operated as a satellite of Temrezli (35 km away). The company also has a tenement holding in the West Sorgun area.

The Rosatom agreement for Akkuyu provides for setting up a fuel fabrication plant in Turkey.


Though originally TAEK required reactor vendors to take back used fuel, the question of whether used fuel for Akkuyu will remain in Turkey or be repatriated to Russia in line with normal practice for Russian plants in non-weapons states had not been settled (by May 2014).


The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR or Enerji ve Tabii Kaynaklar Bakanlığı, ETKB) is responsible for meeting energy needs.

The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) oversees all nuclear activities, submits budgets to the prime minister, and sets TAEK’s programs. An advisory council assists the AEC on matters referred to it. The Advisory Committee on Nuclear Safety is involved with licensing matters and gives advice to TAEK, which decides on them.

The Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (Türkiye Atom Enerjisi Kurumu, TAEK) was set up under the 2007 law to set the criteria for building and operating nuclear plants.

The main law applicable to the electricity market is the Electricity Market Law which regulates the obligations of all those directly involved in the generation, transmission, distribution, wholesale supply, retail supply, import, and export of electricity in Turkey. The law entered into force in March 2013 to establish a more stable, strong, and transparent electricity market in Turkey. The preceding electricity market law became the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA or Enerji Piyasası Düzenleme Kurumu, EPDK) law, establishing that body.

The Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA or EPDK) issues licences for generation, transmission, distribution and supply, and implements electricity market legislation.

The state-owned Turkish Electricity Trade & Contract Corporation (TETAS) will buy the nuclear power for distribution. It operates alongside numerous private sector companies.

Electricity transmission is managed by the Turkish Electricity Transmission Company (TEİAŞ), the state-owned grid operator with a legislatively mandated monopoly on the Turkish electricity transmission network.

Turkey is a signatory of the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability, and various amending protocols.


A small Triga research reactor has operated at the Istanbul Technical University since 1979. It is regulated by the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority.


Turkey ratified the NPT in 1979 and has had a safeguards agreement in force with the IAEA since 1981 and the Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement has been in force since 2001.

Notes & references

1. World Bank Open Data [Back]
2. EIA country profiles [Back]
3. Electricity data from International Energy Agency's Electricity Information 2017 [Back]
4. Republic of Turkey Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources – Electricity page [Back]

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