With European countries having already tapped most of their low-hanging renewable energy development opportunities, Turkey is perfectly poised to become the new renewable energy dynamo in the region, according to an analysis published yesterday in the Financial Times‘s beyondbrics blog.
Although Turkey ranks second in Europe with its massive solar and onshore wind potential, according to the article, those resources remain vastly underused.
Given Turkey’s high dependence on energy imports, the main reason behind its current account deficit, and Turkey’s rapidly growing energy demand, now is the perfect time for the country to expand its local energy production in a more local, sustainable direction.
Wind contributes just 1,800 MW to Turkey’s installed power generating capacity, which is expected to top 55,000 MW this year. Solar is even less utilized, with only 5 MW of installed PV systems generating power.
Hydropower has been the focus of Turkey’s renewable energy so far, with nearly one third of the country’s installed capacity from hydropower dams. But those dams are increasingly coming under fire for the environmental and human threats they pose, and most of the economically viable hydro resources have already been sold to developers.
What’s holding Turkey back from becoming the renewable energy behemoth it could be?
Complicated bureaucratic and administrative procedures account for some of the delay. The renewable sector is also dominated by holding companies that invest in renewable energy only to diversify, without any strategic interest in the sector. Licenses for renewable projects have been viewed by many Turkish firms as “a security that could be flipped for a profit”, according to the Financial Times article, and no proper analysis performed on them. Smaller companies tend to also lack the expertise or foreign partners necessary to fully develop the project licenses they win.
On a more specific level, solar is held back by the limited capacity accorded it by the central government. Licenses are required for any power-generating installation greater than 500 kW, but the 2013 solar license round will only include 600 MW worth of licenses.
The wind energy market in Turkey was stalled for several years by a chaotic auction in 2008 that sold licenses for overlapping projects, totaling more than 78,000 MW — well in excess of the economically feasible wind energy potential of 38,000 MW. This year, firms that won valid licenses are just beginning to develop them.
Slow progress, but progress nonetheless
The Turkish government has some ambitious goals for the next several years: 20,000 MW of installed wind capacity by 2023, reducing the current account deficit by 1 percent of GDP, and boosting research and development spending from 1 percent of GDP to 3 percent.
All of these are connected to a stronger renewable energy sector in Turkey. By making the licensing process more rigorous and streamlined, encouraging foreign investment and strategic partnerships, and raising the incentives for renewable developers, the government will guarantee a cleaner and more secure energy future for Turkey.
Read more about renewable energy in Turkey:
Turkish Cabinet Invokes Wartime Law To Seize Property For Hydro Projects
14,000 Turkish Homes To Be Powered By World’s Most Efficient 1.5-MW Wind Turbines
Wind Energy and Organic Farming Collide in Western Turkey
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