Türkiye is holding talks with the United States on the construction of large-scale nuclear power plants and small modular reactors (SMRs), according to a senior Turkish Energy Ministry official on Tuesday.

“The U.S. is showing serious interest in Türkiye’s goal of increasing its nuclear energy capacity and building new power plants,” the official Yusuf Ceylan told Reuters at a conference on nuclear power plants.

Asked about the projects under discussion, he said: “We can consider the areas of existing power plants or new power plants.”

“We are negotiating with the U.S. for both large-scale power plants and small modular reactors. This is a statement of intent,” he said.

Jeffry Flake, the U.S. ambassador to Türkiye, told Reuters last month that Ankara “talked to us and others about (building) small modular reactors.”

“We’re working with them to try to lessen their dependency (on Russia) in whatever ways we can,” he added.

Small modular reactors are advanced nuclear reactors that have a power capacity of up to 300 MW per unit, which is about one-third of the generating capacity of traditional nuclear power reactors.

SMRs have been advocated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a viable option to fulfill the need for flexible power generation in a wide range of applications and an extensive market.

Ceylan said negotiations continued with South Korea and Russia for a second nuclear power plant planned to be built in the Black Sea region of Sinop and with China’s SPIC for a third nuclear power plant in northwest Türkiye’s Thrace region.

The construction of Türkiye’s first 4,800 megawatt (MW) nuclear power plant by Russia’s state atomic energy company Rosatom is meanwhile continuing at Akkuyu in the Mediterranean region.

Türkiye and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement in 2010 to build the plant. The foundation of the first reactor was laid in April 2018, while the construction of the second, third and fourth units started in June 2020, March 2021 and June 2022, respectively.

Once when fully operational, the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is expected to meet 10% of the country’s electricity needs.

Türkiye plans to build three four-reactor nuclear plants and complement them with SMRs for 20,000 MW of generation capacity to diversify its electricity production mix.

Heavily dependent on imports for energy needs, Türkiye has, over the past years, managed to increase overall power generation while simultaneously cutting coal generation thanks to an aggressive rise in clean power deployment from wind, solar, geothermal and hydro installations.

It injected vast capital to expand and strengthen its infrastructure and energy networks, placing extensive efforts to incorporate renewable energy sources such as wind and solar into its energy mix.

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