Turkey seeks investment to fulfil wind power potential

Turkey’s representatives at the European Wind Energy Association’s conference in Barcelona, Spain were keen to express their country’s interest in developing their renewables capacity, and most notably its wind power capability.

Hasan Murat Mercan, Deputy Minister for Energy and Natural Resources (pictured at POWER-GEN Europe last year) told delegates that Turkey‘s growing economy and energy consumption were making huge demands, while at the same time the country is desperate to reduce its dependence on gas-fired power from neighbouring countries, particularly Russia.

Hasan Murat Mercan
“From a political perspective- without efficient energy resources it is impossible to meet economic needs. From a Turkish perspective renewable energy is one of the ultimate goals. Our population increases by 4 million every four years. Meanwhile we sit on the outer edge of the EU in a neighbourhood where 75 per cent of the world’s hydrocarbons are in the vicinity – but Turkey only produces 5 per cent.”

The minister told the audience at Barcelona that Turkey has a hydrocarbon import bill of $60bn and hydrocarbons accounted for 72 per cent of Turkish power generation annually, growing by 6 per cent per year, and expected to rise even further.

“I don’t know if anyone wants to be an energy minister under these circumstances,” Mercan joked before telling the gathering of how the government intended for renewables to play a part in liberating the country from that financial stranglehold.

“This is why we have an ambitious s target for renewable sources; we hope for it to take up 30 per cent of energy supply in Turkey by 2023. For wind energy alone we are looking at installing 20,000 MW. At the moment the total installed capacity is 2700 MW.”

After 2023, Turkey plans a second phase of wind power installation to take the resource up to 48,000 MW, and much thought is going into easing regulation to enable quicker proliferation

The minister says an ‘aggressive feed in tariff’ is in place and additional incentives are available for parts manufacturing within Turkish borders. He implored delegates to drive forward to make the wind industry more competitive in order to bring down costs

“Unless you are from a hydrocarbon rich country it is essential to engage with the wind industry.”

Ayhan Gok from RES Anatolia in Istanbul echoed the minister’s comments. Gok, who is also a member of the Turkish Wind Energy Association told Power Engineering International that the country had steadily increased its wind capacity year on year, but would still need a major escalation to meet the 2023 target.

“We add approximately 1,000 MW capacity for wind per year in Turkey but with a growing economy we need to increase that to 5,000 MW each year to secure the energy supply.

The government has tried other tactics to boost wind generation, even if small scale. 1 MW wind turbines can be built without a license application but Gok says ideally this could be raised to 5 MW as the investment level would be the same making it economically more sensible.

“The government needs continued investment from outside to manufacture components. In the last two years blade manufacturing has developed locally to meet the demand and TPI are exporting Turkish towers.”

The Turkish delegation’s motivation this past week is very much in line with one of the chief key notes of the EWEA conference; use wind to achieve energy independence. With an estimated combined offshore and onshore wind potential of 88 000 MW, it is foreseeable.

Delivering that power would require transmission grid upgrades, which of course was another great theme among European wind community circles at the conference.

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