Year 2023 in Reviewback to contents
2023 was a milestone year for the Akkuyu NPP in many ways as the first batch of fresh nuclear fuel was delivered to the site in the spring and the first unit received a commissioning permit in December. Here is our recollection of last year’s important events.
Intensive construction works went on at the Akkuyu site throughout the year. 2023 began with the installation of a cantilever truss in the reactor hall of Unit 3 and water tanks for the passive core flooding system (PCFS) at Unit 1.
In early February, Turkey was hit by a disastrous earthquake, the worst one in the last 80 years. The Akkuyu site experienced earth tremors of about magnitude 3 on the 12 point MSK 64 scale, but an ad hoc commission did not find any damage to building structures, cranes or equipment.
The nuclear power plant is located in a Category 5 area, that is, the least prone to earthquakes. Nevertheless, the design of the nuclear power plant accounts for local seismic hazards, and the plant is being built with maximum precautions. It will be able to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake and a tsunami.
Construction and installation works continued as normal. In the spring, the fourth tier of the inner containment shell (ICS) was installed at Unit 2, and the three-month-long installation of the roof was completed at Unit 1.
In late April, the project passed a long-awaited milestone as the first batch of fresh nuclear fuel for Unit 1 was delivered to the Akkuyu NPP site. After fuel arrives at the site, the power plant becomes a nuclear facility, and the country is believed to possess nuclear technology.
Building works continued into the summer. At Unit 2, the fifth ICS tier was assembled, while external and internal walls of the reactor building were being erected. At Unit 4, concreting of the foundation slab for the reactor building was completed, and an overhead crane with a lifting capacity of 350 tonnes was put in operation in the turbine building of Unit 1.
In the autumn, a foundation slab for the turbine plant was concreted in the turbine hall of Unit 2. A molten core catcher, or ‘melt trap’, was installed at Akkuyu Unit 4. The fourth ICS tier was assembled in the reactor building of Unit 3. In October, Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Alparslan Bayraktar and Rosatom’s Director General Alexey Likhachev visited the construction site. They praised the speed of construction works.
In December, a high-precision water quality control laboratory was put into operation. Lab technicians will analyze the chemical composition of ultra-pure deionized water circulating in the primary coolant circuit of the nuclear reactor.
Finally, December saw another major event of the year as the steering board of Turkey’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NDK) granted Akkuyu Nuclear a commissioning permit for the first unit of the nuclear power plant. The document enables the company to proceed with commissioning works, the final stage of the plant construction process. As the next licensing step, Akkuyu Nuclear will have to obtain an operation permit for Unit 1. The permit will allow for nuclear fuel to be loaded into the reactor and pre-critical tests to begin.
“2023 was a year of utmost importance for the Akkuyu project. We are about to finish the construction of Unit 1. In April, nuclear fuel was delivered to the site, and Turkey officially joined the ranks of nuclear nations. In December, the Turkish regulator issued a commissioning permit for the first unit. We still have a lot to do. While the main construction works at Unit 1 are nearing completion, we have started pre-commissioning operations. There is a long period of comprehensive operability tests ahead. Everything must be done carefully, in compliance with the safety requirements,” Kirill Komarov, First Deputy Director General for Corporate Development and International Business at Rosatom, pointed out.
Construction works are going in parallel with training the staff for Akkuyu at every site of Rosatom’s Technical Academy. In 2023, the Global Nuclear Safety and Security Institute of Rosatom’s Technical Academy taught another set of courses for the Akkuyu security personnel.
It was announced in June that a new group of 53 students would be admitted to Russian universities to study nuclear technology. Nearly 300 young engineers have already graduated from Russian higher education institutions, and another 300 are planned to be trained in the next few years.
Turkey’s Ministry of Education also announced plans to establish the country’s first technical school for nuclear-related professions.
In early November, a full-scale simulator for the plant staff was put in operation in the new building of the Akkuyu on-site training center. With the simulator in place, the operators will have an opportunity to practice every possible scenario in the conditions closest to the operation of a real plant. The simulator’s hardware and software are a digital twin of the power supply and control systems installed at the Akkuyu NPP reactors.
Rosatom participated in every major business event held during the year in the Turkish power engineering sector. In June, Rosatom acted as the main partner of the Nuclear Power Plants 5th Expo and 9th Summit NPPES 2023. Rosatom’s top managers emphasized in their speeches that Rosatom would be glad to go beyond construction of nuclear reactors and have Turkey as a partner in other applications of nuclear technology.
In September, Rosatom was one of the main partners of the 6th annual festival Teknofest 2023, the country’s largest aerospace and technology event held in three cities at once. Over 3,000 guests visited an interactive booth of Akkuyu Nuclear. They could try themselves as engineers of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and solve several exciting tasks in a nuclear quest.
In November, Rosatom was the main partner of the 17th International Congress and Expo Energy Is Future (EIF) 2023. Representatives of the Russian nuclear corporation spoke about the latest developments in onshore and offshore small modular reactors, Rosatom’s comprehensive product offering for the Turkish market with a focus on power generation technology, and about water desalination, treatment and purification solutions.
Rosatom has not left aside its social initiatives in the communities neighboring the Akkuyu site. This winter, a contract was signed for the construction of residential quarters for the plant employees and their families. The quarters will be built by 2025 to accommodate more than 6,000 people.
In the autumn, the city of Gülnar hosted an opening ceremony for a number of community facilities, including a day care facility for the elderly, a women’s club, a youth center, a panda park, and a music class for primary and secondary schools, with support from Akkuyu Nuclear.
In October, sailing races and master classes were organized in the Silifke district of the Mersin province with Rosatom’s support as part of the Sails of Spirit inclusive project.
Towards the end of the year, Mersin hosted the finals of Rosatom’s 2nd Regional Chess Tournament organized by the Turkish Chess Federation in cooperation with Rosatom. Following the qualifying rounds, 36 out of 832 players reached the finals. Ediz Gurel, International Master and the winner of the 100th Republic of Turkey Anniversary Cup, was a special guest of the final competition.