Japan’s plan to export nuclear power technology to Turkey hits snag


The Japanese government’s strategy to export nuclear power technology to Turkey has run aground with Ankara mulling the fate of the nuclear power plant in Sinop, Nuclear News website reported.

Sinop is set to become home to Turkey's second nuclear power plant which is expected to have a 4,480-megawatt capacity of electricity generation with four reactors, each with 1,120-megawatt capacity; however, the initial cost for the project of 2.1 trillion yen ($ 20 billion) catapulted to 4 trillion yen ($ 38 billion) since the agreement for the plant was signed in 2013, causing hesitation for both Japanese corporation Itochu and Turkey.

“The Turkish government is in the midst of evaluating the project. I believe it will respond to us in some way or other,” the site quoted Shunichi Miyanaga, president of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., as saying.

The project not become profitable unless Turkey purchases the generated electricity at a higher price than originally expected, it said, adding that unless Turkey complies with the increased burden, Japan would withdraw from the plan.

Pitched by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2013, the project has collided with the steep fall in the Turkish lira over the past year by more than 30 percent, adding to its deteriorating profitability.

‘’Tokyo plans to propose to Ankara that it would provide comprehensive energy cooperation in such spheres as coal-fired thermal power generation and liquefied natural gas, in place of the atomic plant project,’’ the article stressed, noting that because project is based on an agreement struck by both leaders, such a proposal by Tokyo could face a backlash from Ankara.  

Japan is focusing on how to withdraw from the project without undermining bilateral diplomatic ties with Ankara, the article highlighted.

Many energy firms in Turkey are struggling to make a profit after the government kept the price of electricity at low levels to stimulate the economy and a currency crisis, which erupted in 2018, brought a surge in financing costs. Several local firms have cancelled projects, applied to banks to restructure loans or filed for bankruptcy protection.