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Another setback on Turkey's nuclear dream

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

Good news from Turkey. The Akkuyu nuclear power plant tender has been cancelled.
The first response: good news for the anti nuclear activists and the environmentalists all around the world. One of the sunniest, windiest countries of Europe, with lots of energy efficiency and geothermal potential is remain to be a nuclear free state as we wished and campaign for a long time. However, it is expected new tenders will be started by the pro-nuclear government and the fight is far from over.

The first signal of cancellation came with the offered high price by the only bidder which is a consortium of Russian Atomstroyexport, Inter Rao and their Turkish partner Park Teknik. The initial offered price was 21 cent per kWh to sell electricity but many experts thought that was a high price for a nuclear power plant. Then the consortium lowered the price to 15 cent per kWh during the private negotiations with the government but was not successful. Anti nuclear campaigners also complained that lowering the offered price after the official bid was not legitimate.

Later on Turkish State Council took a decision in favor of the TMMOB (Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects) appeal and decided to declare a motion of stay for the three articles of the nuclear tender regulation. That was the second signal and on November 20, TETAS (Turkish Electricity Trade and Contracting Corporation) announced the cancellation at the end of the dispute. They must have seen that the current bid was going no where but to a difficult court battle.

There was a single consortium in the current bid which offered a price of 21 cent per kWh then lowered it to 15 cent per kWh to sell electricity. The price was also found high in Turkey and got many criticisms.

It is not expected the current government will give up its nuclear dreams but it will have a difficult time to change the regulation and find  new bidders for the possible new tender. If they insist, there is also a price hurdle, the new offered price must be lower than 15 cent per kWh otherwise the government will have an explanation to the public.

On November 21, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz was quoted saying "The fact that the tender was scrapped does not mean that the process is scrapped. Our determination on nuclear power plants is persisting."

Sources close to the Energy Ministry say the ministry has already started plans to restart the tender for the plant in Mersin’s Akkuyu district, on the Mediterranean coast, and launch a second tender to build and operate a nuclear power plant in Sinop on the Black Sea in 2010. The government is said to guarantees 15 years of power purchases to encourage investment in the plant, and may have a stake of as much as 25 percent if it is necessary.

Turkey has cancelled four previous attempts to build a nuclear plant, with plans stretching back to the late 1950s, due to the high cost and environmental concerns.

The decision to cancel also had another dimension as regards international politics. The plant was part of a major push of deals Turkey had agreed with Russia earlier this year to increase cooperation on energy, such as Turkey’s permission for Russia’s South Stream natural gas pipeline to pass through its territorial waters and Russia’s promise to provide oil to Turkey’s Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline project.

Turkish Energy Minister Yildiz is expected to visit Russia in December for talks on this matter.

Sources: Sunday's Zaman, 22 November 2009; Nuclear Street, 24 November 2009; emails; Ozgur Gurbuz; Ria Novosti, 24 November 2009
Contact: Ozgur Gurbuz, email:, web: