The groundbreaking ceremony for Turkey's first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu is scheduled for the first week of April with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled to attend.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced the news at the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.
Erdoğan and Putin are expected to meet in Turkey next week to preside over the seventh meeting of the Turkish-Russian High-Level Cooperation Council and discuss regional matters relating to Syria.
The Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant will be constructed by Russia's state atomic energy corporation Rosatom and its Turkish partners Cengiz-Kolin-Kalyon (CKK) consortium. Turkish firms bought 49 percent stake in the project in June 2017. The project is estimated to cost around $20 billion.
Dependent on imports for almost all of its energy, Turkey has embarked on an ambitious nuclear program, commissioning Rosatom in 2013 to build four 1,200-megawatt (MW) reactors.The first unit of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, which will have four reactors, will be launched in 2023, while the other units will be commissioned one by one in the following years. Accordingly, the plant will reach full capacity in 2026.
With four reactors, each with an installed capacity of 200 megawatts, the plant will generate an average of 35 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually when it reaches 4,800 megawatts.
Turkey's energy imports amount to roughly $55 billion annually and its energy demand is among the fastest-growing in Europe. Ankara aims for at least 10 percent of its power generation to come from nuclear energy in less than a decade to cut dependency on natural gas.
Akkuyu's builder Rosatom said last week that the construction will advance as planned and no divergence from the timetable is expected, rejecting the speculations that any changes to the composition of the local ownership structure in the Akkuyu project have any bearing on the timetable of its implementation.