Turkey Is Getting Ready To Harvest Its Renewable Energy Potential
When we talk about wind, solar and geothermal power, geographical conditions such as surface areas and sunny latitudes are very important. Turkey offers excellent conditions for all of these renewable energy sources. Its young population of 70 million - 61% are under the age of 35 - and its strategic location between Europe and the Middle East, add to Turkey’s potential for a leading green power nation.
As Turkey aims at taking its place among the top-ten biggest economies by 2050, an increase in its energy consumption is inevitable. Electricity demand has been growing with an annual rate of 6.5% since 2002, up to current levels of 198,000 GWh/y. Scenarios forecast a 6% growth rate until 2020, compared to growth rates of 1-3% in developed countries. However, Turkey’s growth of electricity supply barely matches its fast growth of demand. The country began experiencing shortages already, and power has become a more popular daily topic. Total installed capacity is at 42,000 MW, with foreign natural gas (48%), coal (29%) and hydro power (17%) providing the biggest shares of resources. So far, the share of renewable energy is close to 1% of the total installed capacity.
In 2006, the government passed a set of incentives to stimulate the renewable energy sector. The efforts successfully resulted in substantial increases in the wind power capacity to 433 MW in 2009 from 50 MW levels in 2006. From 2007 to 2008, the capacity almost quadrupled. Currently, there is additional 450 MW construction to be completed by the end of 2009. Roof-top solar panels, which are commonly used for water heating in the Mediterranean region, produce energy equivalent to almost 4800 GWh/y, however installed photovoltaic capacity is only 2 MW. Turkey is the 5th in the World in operating geothermal energy applications with equivalence of 1380 MW capacity used in direct district heating and tourism industry. Geothermal power production capacity is currently 30 MW. So far, only modest steps have been taken since the government has not set clear targets or competitive incentives on new technologies yet.