Turkey, an energy importing country, has been determinedly investing in domestic and renewable resources over the years to decrease dependency on external resources for power generation. As much as the results have been very promising with mega-scale investments in wind and solar power, Turkey is also a global actor in utilizing its geothermal resources. Continuous efforts have led to Turkey ranking fourth in the world for the largest installed geothermal power capacity. Association of Geothermal Power Plant Investors (JESDER) Chair Ufuk Şentürk emphasized the continuous expansion of installed geothermal power in Turkey.
"While installed capacity in 2016 was 460 megawatts [MW], an additional $1.4 billion investment raised the capacity to 1,100 MW," said JESDER Chair Ufuk Şentürk. Total installed power capacity places Turkey in the fourth rank after the U.S., the Philippines and Indonesia.
JESDER Chair Şentürk indicated that plant investments in 2017 increased 45 percent compared to the previous year. With the addition of four geothermal power plants that started operating last year, the number of power plants increased to 41 in the country. The JESDER chair added that 23 geothermal power plants with a capacity of 614 MW are under construction. "To sustain this growth trend in geothermal power, state incentives for the sector must continue," he added, expressing his belief that the fast growth of geothermal power will continue in 2018 and insisting on the necessity to continue the Renewable Energy Resources Support Mechanism (YEKDEM) to become a global leader in geothermal power.
Şentürk underscored that foreign investors are particularly interested in Turkey's geothermal power capacity. "Arabian firms have secured 14 licenses in central Anatolia. Global installed capacity is currently 14,000 MW," he said. The U.S., in the lead, has an installed geothermal power capacity of 3,591 MW, while the Philippines, which comes second, has 1,868 MW capacity in geothermal and Indonesia has 1,809 MW.
"Turkey's installed geothermal capacity was 706 MW in 2016. Last year, an investment of $1.4 billion raised the capacity to 1,100 MW. Turkey ranks fourth in global geothermal power after the U.S., the Philippines, and Indonesia," Şentürk said. Geothermal power is a domestic, sustainable energy resource with low carbon emissions. But its discovery and utilization poses some difficulties and risks, he indicated. "Therefore," he said, "state incentives are of great importance. We know that the YEKDEM system finishes by 2020 but the sector asks for its continuation at least for geothermal power plants."
Şentürk stressed that the continuation of investments depends on the YEKDEM mechanism. "If YEKDEM does not continue, investments will be cut like a knife," Şentürk said, adding that turnaround times for investments have exceeded the average levels of the past decade with the deepening of wells and the increase in the risk of exploration and costs.
Şentürk mentioned that they do not receive excise duty and value-added tax from fuel used in oil drilling work and that they want to apply the same practice to geothermal energy as well.
Şentürk said the thermal equivalent of energy obtained from geothermal energy wells is higher than that obtained from oil wells. "For example, if the capacity of the well from which the geothermal energy is generated is 4 MW, you cannot get the same power from the petroleum obtained from the oil drilling during which the same amount of fuel is used," Şentürk said, highlighting that geothermal is a renewable and sustainable energy resource, while oil is exhaustible. "Taking these factors into consideration, excise duty and value-added tax exemption support for the fuel used in drilling should also be given to geothermal investors," he noted.