Turkey to launch new 1 GW solar tender by the end of the year

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Turkey’s energy minister Berat Albayrak recently announced, while inaugurating a call centre, that Turkey plans to launch new tenders for coal and solar power capacity by the end of the year. The center is the first of nine planned facilities that will collect complaints from electricity consumers. Also in attendance during the opening ceremony of the call center was economy minister Nihat Zeybekci.

“By launching the first local coal and solar tenders before the end of the year, we will take steps to turn Turkey into a research and development center,” Albayrak said.

New solar PV tender: 1 GW

“The first solar tender will be for 1 GW [of capacity], with mandatory local production,” Ates Ugurel, founder of the Turkish Solar Energy Society Solarbaba, told pv magazine. He also speculated that it would most probably only allow mono/poly technology. “Thin film technology is at the moment excluded, but that could change as well,” added Ugurel. “The real motivation behind the new solar tender is to create a local industry, not just for cell and module manufacturing but also for ingot and wafer [manufacturing].”

Energy policy or publicity stunt?

It appears that Turkey, like Russia, wants to support solar projects that only use locally manufactured components.

But even with such a policy in place, investors must be asking themselves whether they can take Albayrak’s announcement seriously. This is because it is unclear whether the minister honestly wants to promote solar energy, or whether it is a publicity stunt.

The final part of a 600 MW large-scale solar tender was completed in April 2015, but, so far, none of it has been installed. One reason for this is that the past tenders included within them a license fee per project that in many cases was far too high, leading to idle projects.

To date, Turkey has installed 650 MW of solar PV, all of which has come from the so-called non-licensed fragment of the market. If Turkey’s energy minister honestly wishes to support solar energy deployment within the country, there are more effective ways to do so.

Turkey’s energy future

At the call centre inauguration ceremony, Turkey’s energy minster, who is the son-in-law of Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, also spoke of Turkey’s thirst for electricity.

Turkey’s grid was originally designed to sustain a generation capacity of approximately 20 GW, but today the generation capacity has reached about 70 GW, he said. For this reason, the government is paving the way for more power investments, added the minister.

However, it has rarely appeared that renewable resources would enjoy the bulk of this investment. Turkey, which is rich in renewable resources and experiences frequent earthquakes, is actually planning large investments in coal and nuclear facilities. The minister himself has often spoken publicly in favor of coal.

Albayrak did not waste the opportunity to refer to the rating agency Moody’s decision to downgrade Turkey’s credit rating from Baa3 to "Ba1" or "junk" level. He said that Moody’s decision does not correspond to Turkey’s current economic situation.

In the economy, Albayrak said, there are three main components: money, fiscal policies and political stability. Turkey’s economy is healthy, he argued, because all of these components are met.

Western analysts though are particularly worried by the imprisonment of president Erdo?an’s political opponents. This is not interpreted by analysts as political stability.