Turkey: 2013 a critical year for solar energy development

Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) is expected to begin distributing photovoltaic production licenses for projects larger than 1 MW this June. A total of 600 MW worth of licenses are planned to be awarded by the end of the year.
While this presents many opportunities for the industry, the most positive prospects are expected to be found in the small-scale market, since projects under 1 MW are not required to obtain a production license. A total of 70 MW of new photovoltaic capacity is projected to be added this year via such projects.
Turkey’s Renewable Energy Law (Law #5346) "Law on Utilization of Renewable Energy Sources For the Purpose of Generating Electrical Energy", which allows electricity consumers to offset their electricity bills through the installation of a photovoltaic system smaller than 1 MW, is said to have garnered "significant attention."
This is due both to high tariff rates paid by large electricity consumers – those that consume more than 25,000 kWh annually – and decreasing installation costs: commercial-scale systems can now be installed for under $2.00/W, says ClearSky Advisors.
Overall, the Canada-based research company forecasts that Turkey will surpass 4 GW of installed photovoltaic capacity in 2017 – up from the around 6.5 to 7 MW currently installed. "Recent decreases in installed costs and high electricity prices paid by large electricity customers will drive PV demand without the need for additional incentives," it states.
Last year, the International Energy Agency found that Turkey installed approximately 2 MW. Meanwhile, this April, Seiso Energy, Inc. and Japan’s Panasonic unveiled plans to build a 500 kW photovoltaic plant. When complete, it is expected to be the largest plant of its kind in the country.
The need for solar
High economic growth and soaring energy demand has forced Turkey to heavily rely on imported conventional energy sources, in particular, natural gas and coal, which has created a significant energy security problem.
At the same time, electricity consumption in the country is said to have increased by 8% annually over the last 10 years, thus making the country the third largest electricity consumer in the Middle East.
As such, the Turkish government is eager to exploit the country’s renewable energy potential. Under Law #5346, introduced in 2005, it has been guaranteed that all generated photovoltaic energy will be bought for US$0.133/kWh for a 10 year period, up until 2015. Further incentives have been offered, in order to encourage the local manufacture of products.
Edited by Becky Beetz.