Look at what we have here:
A $22 billion dollar deal for a Japanese-French consortium to build Turkey’s second nuclear power plant.
What could possibly go wrong? Let’s see, shall we?
The French company contracted to help build the Turkish reactors is AREVA, which has a long, embarrassing history trying to build nuclear facilities. The prototype untried and untested next-generation European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) the company is building at Olkiluoto in Finland is currently seven years late, 5.1 billion euros over budget, and inundated with safety and construction problems. The EPR being built by EDF at Flamanville in France is five years late, its cost has rocketed 5.4 billion euros to 8.6 billion (leading to major partner in the project Enel pulling out), and it too has suffered the same safety and construction problems as its sibling in Finland.
Despite of all that, what has AREVA decided to do? To join a consortium with Mitsubishi to build another prototype untried and untested nuclear reactor, the ATMEA-1, in Turkey with all the trial and error, cost-and-schedule overruns that will follow. Remember that the $22 billion quoted is not a final figure and can be expected to balloon dramatically.
In Japan, the Fukushima nuclear disaster continues to worsen. Only two nuclear reactors are online. The rest are closed and many may not reopen if surveys find they are built on or near earthquake faults. Meanwhile, despite having its nuclear fleet out of action, Japan suffered no blackouts during last year’s hot summer and is expecting no need for power rationing this year. In short, the Japanese nuclear industry is in total disarray.
So what has the Japanese government decided to do? To export nuclear technology to Turkey (as well as to the Saudia Arabia and United Arab Emirates). Shouldn’t the Japanese nuclear industry clean up its own mess before thinking about making another one somewhere else?
Why is Turkey looking to squander - at the very least - $22 billion on costly nuclear, delays, risks and uncertainty when the country is rich in renewable energy? Just last month Turkey’s energy minister announced plans to supply 30 per cent of the country’s total energy production by 2023 from renewables. Someone should tell the minister he cannot face in both directions when it comes to nuclear and renewable energy.
Just think of the renewable-energy and energy-efficiency projects $22 billion could buy for Turkey. By giving that massive sum to the nuclear industry, the Turkish government is erecting a roadblock to a clean, safe and sustainable future. We are asking them, please, to tear down the nuclear barrier and open the road.