Nuclear energy is an energy which occurs by splitting (fission) big atoms (Uranium, plutonium) or by merging (fussion) small atoms (like hydrogen). The discovery of Uranium in 1879 and the disintegration of atomic under controls in 1934 has been the bases of the foundation of today's nuclear technology. As with many other technological advances, the studies that first began in the field of military defense later began to offer commercial productivity. Many countries, especially the USA and Russia, have made intensive studies to utilize nuclear energy, and as a result of these studies, systems have been developed to convert the heat energy, which is the result of atomic reaction, into electrical energy. These systems, in other words, nuclear power plants, ensure that nuclear energy is obtained in a safe, controlled and sustainable way.
The spread of nuclear power plants began with the oil crisis of the early 1970s. Countries that do not have oil and other hydrocarbon resources have inclined to nuclear power plants to reduce their dependence on these resources and ensure security of energy supply. Nuclear power plants continue to be established all over the world, despite a slowdown due to accidents Three Mile Island (TMI) in the US on 1979 and Chernobyl incident in Soviet Russia on 1986 (today in the Ukrainian borders).
The concept of safety culture came to fore in the light of the lessons learned from these accidents. There have been both administrative and technical improvements to establish and operate safer nuclear power plants all over the world. On the one hand, the establishment and operation of nuclear inspecting institutions began to be monitored and controlled; On the other hand, new techniques, technology, standardization and quality systems have been developed for the production of safer equipment and systems.
Nowadays, nuclear power plants have become an electricity source preferred by countries due to their unique characteristics. The need for a reliable, affordable, sustainable and accessible energy source with increased environmental awareness places more emphasis on nuclear power plants than other alternatives.
- Nuclear power plants produces continuously electricity generation without being affected by climate conditions. Capacity factor of any nuclear power plant is about %90.
- Nuclear power plants do not release greenhouse gases during operation. For this reason, they are an important alternative to prevent global warming.
- The cost of fuel in electricity unit cost pricing is very low compared to other sources. Therefore, the possible fluctuations in fuel prices can not affect the electricity production costs.
- Uranium which is nuclear fuel raw material, has spread to different geographies in the world.
- The installation area of nuclear power plants is very small compared to all other power plants. For this reason, agriculture, inhabiting and natural life are effected slightly.
Thanks to safety systems they have, nuclear power plants have negligible influence, with only about 1% of the radiation exists around us. For this reason, settlement, agriculture, fishing and tourism activies are possible in the area of where nuclear power plants exist. Nuclear power plants are at the forefront of the world's most important tourist and residential centers, such as Paris, London and New York.
Nuclear plants established today considering the experiences, good practices and developing technology that have been experienced for about 70 years are referred to as 3rd (+) Generation. Cooling for 72 hours without external human intervention, airplane crash protection, passive safety systems, digital control rooms, compact equipment and system designs and other vital advancements made it possible for nuclear power plants to have a safer design.
By August 2017, 447 nuclear reactors with a total installed capacity of 392.521 MW have been operating in 31 countries and 59 nuclear reactors are being built in 16 countries. These reactors account for 11% of the world's electricity supply. On a country-by-country basis, By nuclear energy; France supplies about 73%, Ukraine 52%, Belgium 51%, Sweden 40%, South Korea 30%, European Union 30% and USA 20% of their electricity demand.
There are 19 nuclear reactors that are being built in China, 7 in Russia and 6 in India. In addition, there are 2 nuclear reactors which are being built in the United States, 4 in the United Arab Emirates, 3 in South Korea and 1 in France.
After the Fukushima nuclear accident, some countries have announced that they will review their nuclear energy programs but investment in nuclear power plants have continued on a global scale. Japan, the country where the Fukushima accident happened, temporarily stopped all nuclear power plants after the accident to check these nuclear power plants according to updated safety standards. Japan, which has recommissioned the 3 nuclear reactors as last year, continues to work to get other nuclear power plants to commissioned.
The half-century goal of our country to establish a nuclear power plant has begun to actualized with the signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation on the Establishment and Operation of a Nuclear Power Plant on Akkuyu Site between Government of Turkish Republic and the Russian Federation on 12 May 2010. Within the scope of mentioned agreement process, the Project Company was established on 13 December 2010 in Ankara with the name of Akkuyu Nükleer A.Ş. In the meantime, positive decision on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report (December 2014) was obtained from Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning and 36 months electricity production license was obtained from Energy Market Regulatory Authority. The Site Parameters Report prepared by Akkuyu Nükleer A.Ş. was submitted to TEAK, which is approved. Following the approval of this report, the construction license application which is a prerequisite for the construction of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is submitted to TAEK. The ultimate objective is to get the first unit of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant to commissioned by 2023.
On May 3, 2013, an intergovernmental agreement on nuclear power plant construction and cooperation for the Sinop Nuclear Power Plant which is the second nuclear power plant project of our country was signed with Japan.
In order to meet the rapidly increasing demand for electric power and to reduce the risks arising from import dependency, it is planned to commission 2 nuclear power plants by 2023 and start the construction of the 3rd power plant.
Nuclear power plants should be not regarded only as electricity generation facilities. The nuclear power plant project, which consists of approximately 550 thousand components and equipment, will provide added value to our country's industry together with the dynamism and employment opportunities it provides to other sectors.
In addition to this, studies continue at the focus of human resource development. Every year, as many as 600 students are sent to Russia for nuclear energy education. By this year, 259 Turkish students were sent to Russia for nuclear training. In particular, Turkish students will be employed in different fields from engineering to managerial level in the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant Project after approx. 6,5 years of training, including internship in the plants in Russia.