Europe's biggest geothermal energy producer Turkey works hard for renewable energy resources
Energy use in Turkey is expected to double over the next decade according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) as the country's population expands and economy develops. This reality brings with it some challenges though, as the country remains highly dependent on fossil-based imports to meet its increasing energy needs. Therefore, one of the main priorities of Turkey's government has shifted to increasing its renewable energy capacity.
Turkey is rapidly becoming a very important world market player and has set ambitious targets in the energy sector. In 2013 Turkey consumed a total of 245 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and Turkish electricity generation grew by about 6 percent compared to the previous year. Furthermore, the electric industry's dependence on imported fossil oil hovered around 71 to 72 percent while total expenditure of energy imports was $55.5 billion in 2013.
The country has over 61,000 Megawatts (MWs) of total installed electrical capacity and is aiming to reach 100,000 MW by 2023. According to a 2023 projection by the Turkish government, renewable energy resources are coming more into demand and Ankara is planning to supply 30 percent of the country's total energy from renewable sources including wind, solar, hydro power etc. Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yıldız has praised renewable energy investments saying that "Because of the renewable energy plants constructed in Turkey in the past 10 years, Turkey is saving $5.5 billion every year in natural gas imports," on Wednesday. ''Renewable energy plants constructed in the last 10 years will save Turkey $275 billion in natural gas imports over the next 49 years,'' Yıldız added.
According to the Ministry of Energy's annual report Turkey has substantial potential for the renewable energy resources. The ministry's latest forecast indicates that currently 25 percent of total energy generation is met by hydropower. In addition to hydropower resources Turkey also ranks seventh in the world and first in Europe in terms of geothermal energy, producing 300MW per year. Efforts to promote wind power are also growing considerably. Turkey broke its record by building wind farms with a capacity of 700MW per year in 2013, and has produced a total of 3,000 MWs installed capacity in wind power so far.
According to the Turkish Wind Energy Association (TWEA) Turkey will increase to an annual capacity of around 800-1,000 MWs, to reach a total of nearly 4,000 MWs at the end of the year. Furthermore TWEA Chairman Serdar Ataseven stated that Turkey is aiming to supply 20 percent of its total energy demand from wind energy by 2023. "We aim to reach 20,000 MWs installed capacity in wind power by 2023," Ataseven said Wednesday.
Renewable energy still has a long way to go in order to replace fossil fuels and become a primary source of energy consumption but as of late things have been definitely moving in the right direction. By virtue of technological developments the first instalment costs at renewable power plants have been dropping and the unit prices of renewable energy from wind and solar are coming close to the electricity prices generated from conventional fossil fuel-firing thermal power plants. This has in turn seen domestic manufacturing facilities for wind and solar increasing in number, giving a strong boost to the Turkish economy in the form of creating new jobs.
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