Monday, January 02, 2006


During a short presentation and a question and answer session at the Ministry of Energy conference center on Dec 27 (1), the chief economist for the International Energy Agency (IEA) Dr. Fatih Birol, while emphasizing the importance of increased investments in oil and gas production around the world, stated that Turkey had a need for nuclear energy. Dr. Birol, who was in Turkey to publicize the IEA’s annual report on the world’s energy situation 'World Energy Outlook – 2005', said that Turkey must consider nuclear energy seriously without wasting time in order to reduce Turkey’s growing dependence on imports.

Dr. Birol spoke at several other meetings including at an energy seminar organized by the Turkish Association of Petroleum Industrialists (PetDer) in Istanbul, where he emphasized that the nuclear option should be seriouly debated before proceeding to build a nuclear power plant, especially the financing model to be employed, and that the nuclear waste problem should be carefully planned beforehand.

Responding to the reporter’s questions, the Minister of Energy, Dr. Hilmi Guler, recommended Dr.Fatih Birol to focus on energy investment models for developing countries and wondered what sort of a model he would suggest for Turkey. The Minister also said that he should be able to share more information on the tender for the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, estimated to cost well over $2 billion, to be completed by 2012. Recent news articles have reported that the Prime Minister will announce by end of January 2006 the plans for bulding three to five nuclear power plants with a total capacity of 5,000 MW, with the condition that the electricity distribution companies purchase 7-10 percent of the energy produced by the nuclear power plants. On the financing model, the minister indicated that the Private/Public Participation (PPP) model would be used, emphasizing that the preference would be total private sector participation. Earlier reports have stated that there would be no treasury guarantees which are expected to be provided by the energy sector itself.

The minister also commended Dr. Birol for the many awards that he himself and his organization (IEA, which is an affiliate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD) had received over the years for the excellent work tthat they have performed over the years. Another organization, The International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) and its General Secretary Muhammed El Baradey was the receipient of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize for promoting peaceful use of atomic energy and limiting its use for military purposes.

The organization responsible for the research, licensing and the regulation of nuclear energy in Turkey, the ‘’Turkish Atomic Energy Institution (TAEK) located in Ankara, has started talks with leading nuclear power plant constructers in the US, England, France, Russia and China. TAEK is expected to be re-structured along two separate lines, one for licensing of nuclear power plants and the other for regulation. Among the sites selected are the Mersin – Akkuyu (where site investigations were started almost 30 years ago), Sinop and areas adjacent to Sakarya river (where the high water demand of the nuclear power plants can be met.) The type of nuclear power plant (boiling water, pressurized water, natural uranium, advanced reactor) has not been selected yet, which is one of the critical issues.

The nuclear energy issue was also covered during the Dec 15/16 panel discussions at the Middle East Technical University (ODTU) in Ankara under the title, 'Is Nuclear Energy the solution?' Another panel discussion took place during the Dec 21 – 23 Fifth Energy Symposium organized by the Association of Electrical Enegineers (EMO) at the National Library in Ankara. The proceedings of the panel, 'Energy Policies and Nuclear Power Plants' has been issued by the EMO of Ankara (2).

As in most countries, there is also a strong opposition to building nuclear power plants in Turkey. A new group formed in Sinop (Nuclear Information Center – NUKBIL) has openly stated that they do not support a nuclear plant near their city which hopes to become a tourist center in the near future. Greenpeace, long active in environmental issues in Turkey also has voiced its oppoistion to building nuclear power plants for a number of reasons. As the Minister of Energy stated during the December 27 meeting, all organizations related to nuclear energy are working together to come up with the best solution since the demand for electricity will keep increasing each year. The Electricity Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) has estimated that over 5,000MW new capacity will need to be added to the system by 2010.

(1) The conference was attended by the representatives of all the instutions and departments under the Ministry of Energy and many organizations, such as Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Forestry, Electricity Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA), TUBITAK, The Undersecretariat of Treasury and the State Planning Organization and the press.
(2) Panel on Nuclear Energy, ‘’Enerji Politikalari ve Nukleer Santrallar’’. Panel yoneticisi, Necati Ipek, EMO Ankara Subesi YK Baskani

Recommended publications:

Turkey’s Quest for Peaceful Nuclear Power, by Mustafa Kibaroglu, published in ‘The Nonproliferation Review, Spring-Summer, 1997
Nuclear Power Gains New Power, by Steven Edwards in New York, National Post (
A new group has been formed to disseminate information on nuclear energy, which is open to anyone interested in this subcet (
Turkiye’nin Enerji Sorunu ve Nukleer Enerji, by Necmi Dayday
Nukleer Enerji Dunyada Yeniden Yukselise Gecti – Ilk Santral temeli 2007’de, by Olcay Aydilek, Global Energy magazine, August 2005 (
Avrupa Birligi’nin Nukleer Enerji ve Guvenlik Politikasi, by Mehmet Durmus, EU Publication

Yuksel Oktay, PE, Civil Engineer,Istanbul


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