Ankara unveils nuclear energy plant plans

ANKARA – The Turkish government will announce by the end of January a decision to build between three and five nuclear power plants with a total 5,000 megawatts capacity, sources close to the government said yesterday. The government may ask the electricity distribution companies to buy 7-10 percent of the energy produced in nuclear power plants, the sources said. «There will be no Treasury guarantee in this model, but the energy sector itself will provide the guarantee,» an official said. Turkey hopes nuclear power will help cover a projected energy shortage in the future, but its efforts on two other occasions in the last 30 years to build a nuclear power station failed due to cost and opposition from environmentalists. The country has no nuclear power production plants at present. Oil and natural gas imports, along with coal and hydroelectric power account for most of Turkey’s current energy needs. Construction of the plants will be funded partly by the public sector but mostly by private financiers, the sources said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will announce the location, starting date, and financing and technology to be used in the plants in January, an official said. Turkey aims to put its nuclear power plants into service in 2012 under its Energy Ministry projections. Turkey’s Atomic Energy Institute (TAEK) has started talks with leading nuclear power producers such as the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China on technology transfer and the costs. An official said that Turkey did not have a plan to buy a nuclear power plant, but a plan to develop its nuclear energy production technology. A failed tender to build a plant in 1997 attracted bids from three consortia led separately by US-based Westinghouse, Germany’s Siemens and Canada’s AECL. The bids neared $5 billion in this tender.