Turkey could generate 120 GW through better solar rooftop rollout


Turkey is “lagging” in its solar power capacity but could generate 120 GW – 45% of the country’s total electricity needs – through better solar rooftop utilization, said UK environmental think tank Ember in a recently published report.

The report, penned by Ufuk Alparslan and Azem Yildirim, shows that $3.6 billion worth of subsidies, which paid for fossil fuel imports from September 2022 to August 2023, could be eliminated through better rooftop PV policies.

Introducing rooftop solar “obligations” for new buildings and public buildings, as well as tendering suitable apartment building roofs by municipalities, could help the government of Turkey achieve better residential solar take-up, Alparslan said in the report.

The authors analyzed the rooftops of 70 provinces via satellite imagery and discovered up to 772 million square meters – 27.6% of the surveyed area – was suitable for rooftop solar. Certain southern regions damaged by the February 2023 earthquakes were discounted from analysis.

Roughly 148 TWh of electricity per annum could be generated if suitable rooftops across Turkey were fitted with low-efficiency panels, according to the report. But, as this calculation excludes regions damaged by this year’s natural disaster, “it is likely that the true technical potential across the country even exceeds 120 GW,” the authors state in the study.

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Turkey’s western flank is more ideal for solar generation than the east due to population, rooftop tilt, dwelling type and other factors. Istanbul's roofs are poised to generate the most PV with 10.4 GW, followed by the country’s capital Ankara with 10.1 GW and the western city of Izmir with 9.3 GW.

It takes 27 weeks for homeowners, comprising 60% of tenants in Turkey, to be granted necessary permits to install rooftop solar systems, according to the report’s authors. Other obstacles, such as the government’s energy subsidies, are “discouraging” consumers from self-producing energy with PV.

The report said that “policies that promote the widespread use of rooftop solar power plants” in Turkey, particularly in homes, could “reduce the real cost of electricity in the country by reducing its dependence on imported fossil-fuel resources.”

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said that 57% of Turkey’s total energy supply in 2020 was derived from oil and gas, with renewables coming in at 15%. Only 5% of the country’s renewable energy generation that year was derived from solar power, said IRENA, noting that it had 9.4 GW of installed PV capacity at the end of last year.

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