Nuclear Energy and Turkey
01.11.2017 Murat BULUCU, STM & Seyide DOĞRU, STM

Nuclear Energy and Turkey

Nuclear energy is one of the important energy resources to generate electricity in the world with a share of 11%. Meanwhile, nuclear energy has been widely disputed for safety and waste related issues. Currently, most of the developed western countries have significant installed nuclear capacity. These countries are planning to close almost all fossil fuel fired power plants and limit new nuclear installations. On the other hand, countries in the Far East and Middle East regions like China, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia are planning to invest in new build nuclear power plants. Turkey is also amongst these countries. There are three planned nuclear power plants, total 12 reactor units, with slightly less than 15000 MWe installed capacity. These projects are expected to be realized within the next ten years.

Nuclear fuel is commonly made of uranium based materials. They are abundant in the earth and seawater. Uranium is freely traded in the world market in enriched form to be used as nuclear fuel in reactors. The amount of fuel used by each reactor every year is relatively small in volume. This makes the storage of fresh fuel possible for extended period of time without creating a supply problem. Moreover, uranium prices are relatively stable over the years compared to the other energy resource prices such as oil or natural gas.

The most important advantage of nuclear is the generation of carbon free electricity generation with base load generation capability. This makes nuclear as the most important alternative to coal fired power plants. Competitive electricity generation cost for nuclear energy makes it attractive. Meanwhile, there are certain issues related with nuclear affecting the decision for investment. Safety concerns and accidents have always been considered as potential threats for nuclear. Unresolved waste issues and long term radioactivity associated with high level radioactive wastes have also been considered as the other problems. Relatively high capital cost, financing requirements, and prolonged construction periods are also the other issues associated with nuclear power plants.

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