ANKARA – Despite the constant danger of earthquakes, Turkey – with a Russian-built nuclear power site due to go online in 2024 and planning several more – is talking with Greece about the idea of collaborating with more facilities.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, after meeting in Athens with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said his country wanted to develop cooperation with Greece on nuclear energy, said Reuters and Kathimerini.
Speaking to reporters on his flight back from Athens in talks aimed at improving diplomatic ties, Erdogan said Turkey could “provide opportunity” for Greece at a nuclear power plant it aims to build in the Sinop province, said Turkish media.
No further details were given as Greece has no nuclear plants nor plans to build any, deemed to the country’s small size although it has returned to burning coal to generate electricity in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that roiled energy markets and drove up prices astronomically.
Although Greece has established the Greek Atomic Energy Commission, a decision has been made not to implement a nuclear power program to generate electricity as of yet during a drive for sources such as wind and solar power.
There is one operational nuclear research reactor in the Demokritos Research Institute and one sub-critical assembly. Greece did receive electricity produced by nuclear power from Bulgaria in the past but that essentially ended when Bulgaria shut down two reactors in 2006.
In April, during the invasion during which Turkey refused to abide by European Union sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin came to Ankara to inaugurate Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.
Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom built the Akkuyu nuclear power plant and a ceremony saw the first loading of nuclear fuel into the first power unit at the site in Turkey’s southern Mersin province, said Reuters.
“This is a flagship project,” Putin said via videolink. “It brings both mutual economic benefits and, of course, helps to strengthen the multi-faceted partnership between our two states.”
Putin described Akkuyu as “the largest nuclear construction project in the world” and noted that it would mean Turkey having to import less Russian natural gas in the future, EU countries also trying to wean off those supplies.
“But Turkey will enjoy the advantage of a country that has its own nuclear energy, and nuclear energy, as you know, is one of the cheapest,” he added, setting aside criticism about the dangers and waste storage fears.
Erdogan thanked Putin for his support on Akkuyu, adding: “We will take steps to build a second and a third nuclear power plant in Turkey as soon as possible,” which has led to talks with China to do it.
Turkey has an ambitious nuclear program. Russia is already building a power plant in Akkuyu that will become partly operational next year and there are ongoing talks with South Korea and Moscow for a second plant in Sinop.