Turkey’s first nuclear power plant reached a milestone with delivery of the first steam turbine module for the project, four months ahead of schedule.
GE Steam Power, which is supplying all the major equipment for the plant’s four turbine islands, on Jan. 12 announced it had delivered the module to Atomenergomash, an engineering company and the nuclear power division of Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company.
The Akkuyu nuclear power plant (NPP) is located in Büyükeceli, Mersin Province, in Turkey. The first unit of the $20 billion, 4.8-GW project is planned to come online in 2023. Akkuyu will feature four, 1.2-GW VVER (water-water energetic reactor) units from Rosatom; all four reactors are planned to enter service by year-end 2026.
Arabelle Steam Turbine
Each Arabelle steam turbine that will be used in the Akkuyu project includes three modules: the high pressure/intermediate pressure (HIP) module, and two low-pressure modules. Each turbine (Figure 1) in total is 60 meters in length, including the generator, and can provide 1.2 GW of power. GE said the HIP is unique to its Arabelle technology and allows for more output from any reactor type. The company said the turbine is “recognized for its high reliability rate of 99.96% over 400,000 operating hours.”
The modules for the Akkuyu project are being built at GE Steam Power’s Belfort factory in France. GE’s full scope of equipment for Akkuyu includes the turbines, as well as the GIGATOP 4-pole generators, and the vacuum pumps in the turbine hall.
“For the first time ever, the enterprises of Rosatom’s Mechanical Engineering Division involved in the Akkuyu project, have started to produce turbine island equipment in accordance with European standards. This is the outcome of [a] successful strategic partnership between two heavy manufacturing giants—Atomenergomash of Rosatom and GE,” said Andrey Nikipelov, CEO of Atomenergomash, in a statement. “As the project was progressing, we set up an effective coordination between our companies, and we will certainly capitalize on this invaluable experience when developing our expertise as the supplier of both, nuclear and conventional islands.”
GE said equipment manufacturing for the plant began in June 2019. The company said it was able to deliver the first module ahead of schedule despite two government-mandated lockdowns as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. GE in a news release said safety protocols for workers included “social distancing whenever possible, the necessary PPE [personal protective equipment] for safe work, including gloves, hydroalcoholic solutions and FFP2 masks [filtering face-piece 2 masks, which have a minimum filtration percentage of 94%] for those in close proximity as well as additional cleaning of the equipment between shifts.”
“It’s a significant milestone for our partner, AAEM, our customer, Atomenergomash, and our project and manufacturing team,” said Frederic Wiscart, senior executive of projects at GE Steam Power. “This past year has been nothing if not challenging—and this first equipment delivery showcases the dedication of GE Steam Power team to continuously deliver on time and on quality for our nuclear customers around the world.”
Plant’s Vision Began in 2010
The Akkuyu plant has been in the works since 2010, when Russia and Turkey signed an agreement for a Rosatom subsidiary—Akkuyu Nuclear—to build, own, and operate the plant. Engineering and survey work at the site began in 2011. The plant’s official launch came in 2015, though tensions between the two countries, caused by the downing of a Russian warplane by two Turkish F-16s in November 2015, halted the project for a time.
A formal groundbreaking—attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin—took place in April 2018, just after major construction work began.
Akkuyu officials in December announced the housing for the core melt localization device had been installed for Unit 2 of the plant. That unit is scheduled to come online in 2024.
Russia’s Sovcombank in December said it will lend up to $300 million to Akkuyu Nuclear to help finance continued construction of the plant. Sovcombank in a statement said it would provide funding over a period of seven years.
“The construction of the Akkuyu NPP in Turkey is progressing at a good pace. In this context, Sovcombank’s loan is important to ensure timely financing of the project,” Ilia Rebrov, deputy director general for economy and finance at Rosatom, said in a statement. “In general, Rosatom is currently engaged in many projects that require the involvement of reliable financial partners focused on supporting the sustainable development agenda. I am confident that Sovcombank will help us facilitate solutions for these objectives.”
The Akkuyu plant when completed with all four units is expected to provide about 10% of Turkey’s electricity.
Three Nuclear Plants Planned
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its 2020 update said Turkey plans to build at least three nuclear power plants, with a total of at least 12 reactors, by 2035, including Akkuyu. The next plant, Sinop, which was a joint venture between Turkey and Japan, had been sited in Sinop Province, but the project is on hold after the Japanese government withdrew its support.
The IAEA in its 2020 report said the site selection process for Turkey’s third nuclear plant was continuing. The World Nuclear Association said recently the third plant would be built by China.
Turkey at present receives more than a third of its electricity from coal-fired power plants, with just less than one-third coming from natural gas-fired units. Hydropower accounts for about one-fifth of the country’s power. Renewables, including wind, solar, and geothermal, account for about 12% of generation, according to the International Energy Agency.
The country’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan developed by Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources aims to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix to 30% by 2023. The plan calls for adding 34 GW of hydropower, 20 GW of wind power, 5 GW of solar, 1 GW of geothermal, and 1 GW of biomass, with support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.