Turkey’s largest wind power plant has broken ground and is expected to generate enough clean energy to electrify up to 170,000 homes. Until now the country’s renewable energy program has lagged behind Europe and some Middle Eastern countries, with far too much emphasis placed on hydroelectricity and nuclear.
But now the government is pushing to harness its ubiquitous wind resource and the 143 MW wind farm in Balıkesir is just the start. Last week energy Minister Taner Yıldız announced the country’s intention to generate a total of 20,000 MW of wind energy by 2023.
The €153 million Bares plant is owned by Enerjisa, a joint venture between Turkey’s Sabancı Holding and Germany’s E.ON, and €135 million was funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), according to Hurriyet Daily.
“Last year when the EBRD invested in this brilliant wind farm, we knew which way the wind was blowing, said EBRD Director for Power and Energy Nandita Parshad.
“The energy that Bares starts producing today can provide clean electricity to about 170,000 households in Turkey, blowing away costly imported resources, enhancing Turkey’s energy security and bringing the country closer to its renewable energy targets.”
Yıldız also chimed in, adding that Turkey’s population growth has thus far outpaced its renewable energy investments.
In order to bridge that gap, the entire energy infrastructure is undergoing a systemic overhaul.
At the commissioning ceremony, Yıldız announced the energy ministry’s plan to denationalize its entire distribution grid in order to pave the way for independent power producers. Tenders for privatization will be finalized around June or July, Hurriyet reports.
Other, smaller scale wind energy projects are in the pipeline as well.
Mini RES, a series of 2.5 MW wind energy plants, will help to pad overall wind generation, bringing the total capacity to 20,000 MW in the next decade, said Sabancı Chairperson Güler Sabancı.
Even so, Turkey is relentless in its pursuit for less responsible energy sources. Despite its vulnerability to earth quakes and resistance from academics and environmentalists, the country just inked a $22 billion deal with Japan to build its second nuclear plant.
And our own Julia Harte is currently charting the numerous environmental and social impacts wrought by the Ilısu Dam on the Tigris River with a National Geographic Young Explorer grant, which is just one of several hydroelectric plants that are wreaking havoc.
Turkey’s energy vision is inspired by desperation and economics, not environmental ethics; even so, we’ll take what we can get and Bares is an important first step toward a more sustainable policy.