Ankara develops new energy policy
Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak presented a fairly ambitious national energy policy in a meeting that drew the country’s leading businesspeople from the energy, infrastructure and banking sectors. Hurriyet Daily News tells about the country’s plans in its article What will Turkey’s new national energy policy bring? The plan strongly aims to enhance Turkey’s energy supply security and improve its use of local energy resources and its modes of energy production with the inclusion of many more indigenous sources, from human resources to renewable and nuclear equipment. The policy, which includes a number of “must-do” steps for Turkey, could really facilitate a decrease in the country’s dependence on foreign resources and, thus, its current account deficit, if it is applied in a transparent and efficient way.
Before proceeding to these key steps, let me note that Turkey posted a current account gap of over $32 billion last year, and almost $24 billion of this came from the country’s energy bill, even in a year when energy prices were still relatively low. One of the key points to Albayrak’s presentation regarded raising Turkey’s investments in coal reserves. Noting that Turkey’s use of local coal reserves had almost doubled to 15 billion tons in recent years, the minister added, “Turkey’s coal is now understood to be more efficient than it had earlier been thought.” The point is here whether Turkey will place special emphasis on ecological concerns regarding the use of coal in electricity production. Albayrak said that resources that are “even better than the latest existing green technologies will be used in this area.” This is a crucial pledge and should be kept for the sake of sustainable economic growth.
Additionally, high work safety standards must also be guaranteed in the new era, especially after a number of disastrously fatal mining accidents. Another key point about the new plan regards improving local renewable resources. The minister noted that Turkey would increase its solar and wind power capacity by 10,000 megawatts for each in the next decade.
This is another good pledge, as many scientific reports have already showed that Turkey has high renewable energy potential and that these potentials must be realized. There is another key point here: The ministry also plans to increase indigenous production in this area and the number of qualified human resources. A number of steps have already been taken to achieve this goal. For instance, a tender was held last month for Turkey’s biggest solar power plant, which will have 1,000 MW of installed capacity in the Central Anatolian province of Konya’s Karapınar district. The tender requested the establishment of a production factory for photovoltaic equipment, the gradual increase in use of locally produced equipment and assurances that 80 percent of the personnel on the project will be local engineers. The same is planned for other upcoming projects.
Albayrak also said Turkey would produce a complete geophysical map of its territory to acquire a full picture of its natural resources by the end of 2018. According to him, this map will be used to see what Turkey has in mining terms. Afterwards, the main aim will be to increase value-added production in this area. “While we export one ton of raw copper for just $1,200, we import the same amount of copper wire ropes for $150,000 for the use of high-voltage electricity lines. In this vein, our mining strategy will focus on increasing our capacity to make intermediate products and principal products,” he said.
Last but not least, Turkey will conduct seismic studies for oil and gas drilling activities, he also said, noting that exploration would occur in two areas in the Black Sea and two in the Mediterranean. “We will open two wells for each in these seas with a drilling ship on an annual basis. We plan to buy this ship over the year. This will be a first for Turkey,” he said.
These strategies will likely improve Turkey’s energy spectrum in a significant manner, as long as all processes are undertaken in an efficient and transparent manner. Otherwise, some previous mistakes, such as those in designating tenders or in choosing places to build power plants, will unfortunately occur once again, consigning Turkey to the fate of continuing to depend on foreign energy sources.