What sustainable solar means to Turkey

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Throughout history, Turkey has been of great geopolitical importance to countries in the region, and has often been viewed as the bridge between east and west, linking major energy producers and large energy markets to global energy players. Though it lacks its own significant mineral resource reserves, the country has strategic advantages for energy transit as it lies between the Middle East, Russia, and the Caucasus, and the large energy markets of Europe and the West.

Turkey is a net energy importer. At present the country relies on imports for more than 72% of its energy. Gross energy consumption is also set to increase in the coming years – presenting a dual challenge to the economy. It also presents a significant opportunity for the renewable sector.

Gross electricity consumption in Turkey in 2017 was almost 297 TWh. As of June 2018, it stood at 147 TWh for the year. According to the highly probable scenario, in the year 2023 electricity consumption is expected to rise by 5.5% to 357 TWh. By the end of the first half of 2018, the distribution of Turkey’s installed power by resources stands at 32% hydro power, 26.4% natural gas, 22.2% coal, 7.3% wind, 1.3% geothermal, 5.4% solar, and 5% from other sources.

Under these circumstances, and in order to reduce Turkey’s dependency on energy imports, in the last few years administrators have done tremendous work in encouraging renewable development – becoming the largest PV market in Europe in 2017 with over 2.6 GW of installations – excluding the 1 GW tender held in March 2017 and the majority of the granted 600 MW of licensed projects in 2015.

However, there was no real plan by which to foster the development of a sustainable market, and this acceleration did not last long. In 2018, 1.6 GW of PV was installed, with that likely falling to around the mid-500 MW range in 2019 – which would be the last projects allowed under the current policy settings.

On the other hand, a previously scheduled second 1 GW tender (YEKA) was cancelled on January 13. According to many sector professionals, this is a good sign and perfect timing to finally start to introduce regulations that would encourage a sustainable solar market by launching new schemes for residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) rooftop installations.

Such measures are understood to be targeting a potential of
3.6 GW in the C&I segment, self-consumption solutions targeting 1.5 GW, and small-scale PV power plant tenders held annually, for projects sized 10-30 MW each – for a total of 1 GW of capacity a year. With these settings in place, what could additionally save the day for Turkey is the potential to catch the future as well by investing heavily in the development of energy storage and EV charging systems, AI, virtual power plants, and smart energy transmission technology.

About the author

Eren Engür is the founder of established solar and wind project developer and independent power producer Icarus Energy. Since 2005, Icarus has developed, designed, and built over 300 solar and wind energy projects in Canada and Europe.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.