“They’re blazing a new path in Turkey” reads the headline over this photo of Akbıyık villagers standing in front of their new wind turbine.
The lights in Akbıyık went out one and a half years ago, when the Turkish Electricity Distribution Company cut off the village’s electricity because of outstanding utility bills that amounted to TRY 33,000 ($18,000). At that point, the villagers faced a choice: pay off the debt and get back on the national power grid, or find a new energy source that they could harness and control on their own.
They chose to stay off the grid and switch to wind power, securing their energy future and making them one of the greenest villages in Turkey.
A carefully researched decision
Akbıyık’s residents and village headman researched various forms of renewable energy before settling on wind power. They proposed a TRY 160,000 wind turbine project to the government of their province, Bursa. The villagers contributed TRY 20,000, but the majority of the initial costs were paid by the Bursa Provincial Administration.
With a 50 KW capacity, the turbine won’t break any power generation records for wind energy. But it has already enabled Akbıyık to pay off its electric debts, and it is being used to power a water pump that will allow the village to remain completely independent from state utility providers.
Setting the pace for the government
The turbine began to spin several days before Turkey’s government announced an ambitious new National Wind Energy System, in which Turkey will begin producing and designing wind turbines itself rather than relying on foreign parts and engineering expertise.
Although the turbine in Akbıyık is not 100% local to Turkey, the village’s decision to commission it indicates that regular Turks are far ahead of their government when it comes to implementing sustainable energy solutions.
Part of Turkey’s eco-friendly grassroots tradition
Unlike other wind turbines in Turkey, which are owned by private companies, Akbıyık’s turbine belongs completely to the villagers, according to Kemal Demirel, secretary general of Bursa’s provincial government. Demirel expects similar projects to be implemented in other Bursa villages in the future.
Grassroots efforts to produce energy sustainably have a proud history in Turkey. Last year, a mosque in the village of Büyükeceli installed photovoltaic panels on its roof to protest a nuclear power plant that government officials were trying to build in the area. The country’s first Alternative Energy Races were held in Izmir this year, showcasing a range of solar- and hydrogen-powered vehicles built by teams of Turkish university students and professors.
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Image via DaDDiRi