A 2012 Energy Forecast For Turkey: Heading Down A Tried-And-False Path

Increasingly smoggy skies are in store for Turkey if it follows the energy paths predicted.

A mostly dismal list of 2012 predictions that recently appeared in the Eurasia Review, courtesy of Haluk Direskeneli, an energy analyst, consultant, and member of the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers in Ankara, Turkey’s capital city. Low investor interest in alternate fuels and a reliance on other countries for fossil fuels will strain Turkey financially, even as new domestic  coal- and gas-fired power plants seek space and funding, Direskeneli says.

Read on to learn about noteworthy developments that Direskeneli predicts in Turkey’s energy sector, and their implications — locally and around the world.

An uncertain fuel supply from Turkey’s neighbors

Turkey’s dependence on its hydrocarbon-righ neighbors will pinch its pocketbook in 2012, Direskeneli says. Iran’s own needs will likely cause it to cut off its natural gas flow to Turkey for at least one month, causing Russia to jack up its own supply — and prices — for that period. Turkey’s contract with Russian natural gas pipeline Gazprom will terminate at the end of 2011, leaving large uncertainty over how Turkey will fill the fuel gap.

For its part, Russia’s lack of commercial financing will put the much-opposed nuclear power plant in Akkuyu, which Russian state energy agency ROSATOM would majority-own and operate, on hold for a bit longer. Given the lack of ready funding for the plant, Direskeneli points out, efforts to keep the project going are now “purely political” and should be discussed as such.

In the meantime, the French national electric and gas companies are negotiating for the contract to another nuclear power plant along Turkey’s Black Sea coast. But deteriorating diplomatic relations between Turkey and France may chill those plans as well, Direskeneli says.

The domestic front: dirty and getting dirtier

Turkey’s hopes for a natural gas source of its own in the eastern Mediterranean Sea appear to have been dashed, says Direskeneli.

Drilling off the coast of northern Cyrus did not turn up the expected reserves of natural gas, and it seems unlikely that any resource as enormous as the one originally advertised will be found.

Despite its own lack of hydrocarbons, Turkey seems determined to continue developing a fossil fuel-dependent domestic energy infrastructure. Of several major new power plants Direskeneli discusses that are currently under construction or seeking investment, all are fossil fuel-powered.

Just one, a 450 MW plant that is currently trying to attract investment, has a combined cycle design for improved efficiency; the others follow inefficient, conventional design models. Efforts to build polluting power plants in parts of the country where they would adversely affect populations, meanwhile, continue to be staunchly opposed — Direskeneli calls the situation in Gerze, where 10,000 Turks recently assembled to protest such a plant, “out of control.”

The government will continue to try to privatize the rest of its thermal power plants in 2012, Direskeneli says, but the global economic crisis has reduced many investors’ appetites and assets.

Unfortunately, this will most severely hurt the country’s emerging wind and solar industries. Without lots of foreign and local investment, these two sectors won’t be able to develop the production and distribution infrastructure they need to become profitable.

:: Eurasia Review


Read more about energy in Turkey:

10,000 Turks Gather To Protest Coal-Fired Plant

Turkey Expected To Cancel Nuclear Plans After Massive Earthquake

Turkish Village Goes Off The Grid With A Wind Turbine

Image via quinn.anya

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