A report on the Turkish power sector has found that Turkey can significantly reduce its energy import bill by focusing its efforts on utilising its coal resources.

Dr Stephen Mills of the International Energy Agency Clean Coal Centre states in Prospects for coal and clean coal technologies in Turkey, that Turkey can meet the challenges of growing population, demand and economy by turning to the mainly lignite and hard coal reserves it has in its possession.

Dr Mills commented: “the greater use of lignite and hard coal has the potential to be of significant economic benefit to the country. The deployment of Clean Coal Technologies (CCTs) would also ensure that any environmental impacts are contained.”

Turkey has long been beset by energy problems, namely security of supply and achieving sustainable development. Currently, greater than 90 per cent of its oil and 98 per cent of its natural gas is imported, mainly from Iran and Russia. Much of the hard coal consumed is also imported.

Imported energy accounts for around a quarter of the country’s overall annual import bill and despite energy market liberalisation there has not yet been a real reduction in that dependency, but the aim to reduce imported energy is a strong government objective.

Increasingly, state-owned power generation assets and coalfields are being sold to the private sector. The report states that Turkey’s energy resources are mainly lignite and smaller amounts of hard coal.

“Current estimates suggest that resources exceed 13 Gt (11.8 Gt of lignite and 1.3 Gt of hard coal). But large areas of the country have not yet been explored fully. This means that lignite and hard coal reserves could be much greater than the current estimates. On-going exploration has so far added 5.8 Gt to Turkey’s lignite reserves.”

The report goes on to state that (lignite) even though often of poor quality, remains the country’s most important energy resource.

“Lignite-fired power plants have a strong competitive advantage in terms of price, supply, investment and operating costs,” according to Dr Mills.

In the near-term, imports are expected to increase by 2-2.5 Mt/y as new thermal power plants come on line and iron and steel production expands.

A national coal strategy has been adopted to reduce imports and increase the use of indigenous lignite and hard coal for power generation, with an emphasis on the adoption of CCTs.

“In order to meet the increasing electricity demand, large investments will be required. Additional generating capacity will be needed – there is a goal of achieving an extra 18 GW of coal-based installed capacity within the next decade.”

Thermal and hydroelectric generation currently provides most of Turkey’s electricity. In 2012, gas-fired plants generated 43.6%, followed by hydro (24.2%). Domestic lignite and hard coal-fired power provided 16.2%, with imported hard coal providing a further 12.2%. However, there are plans to add nuclear power to the mix.

The International Energy Agency report asserts that the commercial-scale deployment of clean coal technologies in Turkey encompasses mainly fluidised bed boilers, supercritical pulverised coal boilers, various environmental control technologies (such as FGD and SCR units), and a number of coal cleaning systems.

“However, as the national focus shifts towards the greater use of indigenous lignite and hard coal, interest in the wider use of CCTs is increasing. This has now reached ministerial level and their increased deployment is being encouraged by various means.”

[bc_video account_id=”” player_id=”” video_id=””]