ECONOMY

Turk N-plant project to start in February

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkish authorities are expected to invite bids for the construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant in February, Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said yesterday. TETAS, the state-run company to market the plant’s power production, «could make the (tender) announcement on February 21,» the Anatolia news agency quoted Guler as saying. Turkey’s Atomic Energy Institute (TAEK) is working on technical criteria for the plant, a process expected to conclude by December 21, he said. The government has said it plans to build three nuclear plants with a total capacity of about 5,000 megawatts to prevent a possible energy shortage and reducing dependence on foreign supplies. «We estimate that the investor will start construction next year and – considering that this will take five years – nuclear power will come on stream sometime in 2013 or 2014,» TAEK Chairman Okay Cakiroglu said. Green opposition Amid opposition from environmentalists, parliament passed a bill earlier this month setting the legal framework for nuclear plants, authorizing the Energy Ministry to run and finalize construction tenders and decide on the plants’ capacity and location. The law guarantees that the state will buy the plants’ production for 15 years. Guler said although the government prefers the private sector to undertake the project, a joint venture between the private and public sectors or construction by the public sector alone could also be considered. The project as a whole and the possible site of one of the reactors – the Black Sea city of Sinop, 435 kilometers (270 miles) northeast of Ankara – have triggered strong protests from residents and environmentalists. Turkey dropped an earlier nuclear plant project in July 2000 amid financial difficulties and protests from environmentalists in Turkey and neighboring Greece and Cyprus. Opponents argued that the proposed site – Akkuyu, on the Mediterranean coast – was only 25 kilometers (15 miles) from a seismic fault line.