Russia is building a huge nuclear power plant in Turkey that will eventually be able to supply 10% of the country’s electricity. Western sanctions are turning everything upside down.
We are going to Turkey for a story of a nuclear power plant
It’s one of those big projects that Turkish President Erdogan loves to inaugurate to demonstrate that Turkey is modernizing: the huge new airport in Istanbul in 2018, the world’s longest suspension bridge over the Bosphorus in March and his favorite: Akkuyu!
This is the name of the future nuclear power plant which alone will provide 10% of the country’s electricity. Everything is gigantic in this project located on the shores of the Mediterranean, not far from the city of Antalya: starting with the 4 reactors of 1200MW!
Work on the first reactor began in 2018, the following year for the second and, according to the impatient President Erdogan, both will be coupled to the Turkish electricity grid next year. Except that there is a catch and this catch is Russia!
A power plant is built by the Russians
By Rosatom, the Russian national nuclear company. But, the problem is not really there. First, because so far Rosatom has escaped Western sanctions. So the construction can continue.
The problem is that the contract with Moscow is very special: it is Russia that assumes all the costs of construction and commissioning of the four reactors. In exchange, the Turkish state will pay Rosatom for the electricity produced in Akkuyu for 25 years.
However, it was Russian banks that advanced the money for the construction of the reactors. Banks that have been cut off from the international banking system and are therefore unable to continue financing the project.
Stop or again?
Already, it was necessary to fall back on the ambitions of President Erdogan: it will not be two but only one reactor which will be coupled to the electricity network next year. For the rest, everything is suspended: Russia would like Turkey to put its hand in its pocket.
What Turkey absolutely cannot do: its currency has collapsed and, with inflation over 50% and a complicated presidential election for Erdogan next year, now is not the time to spend lavishly.
The solution could be to go at least to the end of the first reactor so that no one loses face. Especially since Russia is very attached to this project which has allowed it to get its hands on a piece of Turkish territory.
A leonine, almost colonial contract
Russia didn’t just get a 25-year concession! She also won the construction of a deep-water port for the exclusive use of Rosatom, therefore of Moscow, plus tax exemptions worthy of a colonial contract!
This is also one of the many criticisms against this project: Recep Tayyip wanted his nuclear power plant so badly that he would have signed anything. Including a contract subjecting Turkey a little more to Russia in terms of energy.
Of course, Westerners could get angry and demand that Turkey get out of this energy hell. But on the one hand, we need her too much in the Black Sea, and on the other hand, we can’t blame her today for having done exactly the same thing as us for 30 years!