Russian nuclear power corporation Rosatom has started construction of the Akkuyu power plant in Turkey, the first nuclear project in the country.
The power station is being developed at the Akkuyu site in Mersin province along the Mediterranean shores and is expected to involve an investment of $20bn. It will house four power-generating units, each having a capacity to produce 1,200MW of nuclear energy.
The project, however, had been facing controversies from environmentalists over security concerns and its placement in an area rich in wildlife, reports Agence France-Presse.
Construction of the plant is expected to be completed by 2020.
Apart from the Akkuyu plant, Turkey has planned two more nuclear projects in the country.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz was quoted by the news agency as saying: "Development cannot happen in a country without nuclear energy."
While the second nuclear facility is likely to be developed by a French-Japanese consortium in the Black Sea city of Sinop, location for the third one has not yet been finalised.
The nuclear development is in line with the government’s plan to reduce dependence on energy imports from Russia and Iran.
Yildiz said: "If we had built this power station ten years ago, we would have saved $14 billion in natural gas purchases."