Turkey added 2,416 MW of solar capacity in 2018… kind of

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According to data published by Turkey’s Electricity Transmission Company (TEIAS), the nation installed a staggering 2,416 MW of new PV capacity in 2018, leading to a cumulative 5,063 MW.

Based on TEIAS data, around 1.5 GW of the new capacity was installed last January with a further 500 MW added the following month before the frantic activity dried up, and only around 500 MW more was installed in the next 10 months.

The figures appear to explain the controversy that emerged last year concerning installation numbers for 2017. pv magazine initially reported Turkey had installed 1.7 GW of solar capacity in the earlier year, but days later reports emerged arguing the correct figure for 2017 should have been a lot higher. TEIAS’ new data may clear up the confusion.

In both 2017 and last year, newly installed PV capacity was added primarily in the small, unlicensed segment of the market, comprising projects of less that 1 MW capacity each. Such arrays are often installed together in clusters.

Mixed feelings

The 2018 figure of 2,416 MW is high and it appears most of this activity took place at the end of 2017, with systems then registered last January. The installation activity from March to December 2018 then slowed markedly – and that pattern looks set to continue this year. With TEIAS having permitted a cumulative 7.3 GW of such unlicensed PV projects – with two years to get them operational – there are relatively few such permits still active going into 2019.

Some solar stakeholders hope the licensed segment of the market will make up any shortfall in smaller projects but there is little in the data to bear that out.

Of Turkey’s 600 MW of tendered licensed projects only a fraction has been installed, and the domestic PV market appears reluctant to embrace the opportunity to build all the remaining capacity. Exacerbating the lack of activity, a new, highly anticipated tender that was supposed to auction 1 GW of licensed capacity this month has been postponed.

The market could turn to rooftop solar, but challenges remain there too.

Solar remains negligible in Turkey’s energy mix

According to official data, coal’s share in Turkey’s electricity generation mix last year rose to 38% from 33% in 2017, with natural gas contributing 30.66% – down from 37%.

Turkey’s energy and natural resources minister Fatih Donmez tweeted the country mined a record 101.5 million tonnes of domestic coal in 2018, up from 87.8 million tonnes a year earlier. The tone of Donmez’s tweet was celebratory as Turkey’s politicians see coal as the pillar of energy security.

According to data compiled by the Anadolu Agency, solar, geothermal, bioenergy and fuel oil added only 4% to the electricity mix last year. Hydro and wind contributed 20.32% and 6.75%, respectively.