Status quo energy policy

In just twelve years, Turkey’s electricity consumption has doubled. The largest consumer of energy in Turkey is the industrial sector, which accounted for 36.1% of total final consumption (TFC) in 2014. Households accounted for 22.3% of TFC. While energy demand in households has increased by 5.8% since 2004, demand in the commercial sector has grown by 105.4%, more than in any other sector. Energy use in transport accounts for 24% of TFC. Turkey will probably see the fastest medium- to long-term growth in energy demand among International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries. According to the government projections, it is estimated that TFC will more than double.

Turkey is highly dependent on fossil fuel imports, as only 24.8% of its energy needs are met by domestic production. In 2015, Turkey’s energy mix in the power sector was dominated by coal (33.7%), closely followed by natural gas (32.5%) and hydro (24.5%). While the share of new renewable energy and biomass increased from 0.3% in 1996 to 8.6% in 2016, these sources still play only a minor role within the energy system. Turkey does not currently produce or consume energy from nuclear generation, but it is anticipated that two nuclear power plants will account for 5% of the electricity supply by 2030.

Turkey’s geography and climatic conditions are particularly advantageous for renewable energy generation, with a strong potential for hydro, wind, solar and geothermal energy. However, the share of renewables in the energy mix has varied over the past decade in line with the changing water levels in the country’s hydrological basins. Most of the increase in energy demand has been met using fossil energy sources. Turkey’s plan for the next decade includes renewable energy targets for the energy sector, such as increasing the solar generating capacity to 10 GW and wind capacity to 16 GW and utilising the full hydroelectric potential. However, ambitions are lower for wind than indicated in previous plans, and solar and wind targets both fall short of the potential for development in this area.

Turkey experienced the first phase of the deployment of renewable energy (an increase from 15.5 GW to 28 GW in the period from 2009 to 2014), notably wind power, with the creation of the Renewable Energy Resources Support Mechanism (YEKDEM). This mechanism offers a choice between direct marketing and resource- and technology-specific feed-in tariffs. In recent years wholesale electricity prices have come down, making YEKDEM the preferred choice of investors.

Between 1990 and 2014, Turkey’s overall GHG emissions increased by 125%, while per capita GHG emissions almost doubled. During the first half of this period, emissions rose on average by 2.8% annually and climbed to an annual average of 4.2% in the second half. GDP and population growth have been identified as the two main drivers of this trend. In the aforementioned period, the energy intensity of Turkey’s economy decreased by 9%, while global energy intensity fell by more than a quarter. During this time, the Turkish economy bucked the global trend with an 8.7% increase in its GHG emissions intensity.

Energy-related Challenges and Opportunities

Turkey is currently considering the possibility of expanding the exploitation of its coal reserves and building new coal-fired power plants to satisfy its growing appetite for energy – a policy that would create path dependencies spanning several decades. In this context, proposals for ambitious climate action are facing considerable opposition from the high-emitting elements of the power sector.

Despite the boom in private investment and the attractive support mechanism, licensing and the integration of renewable energy at the transmission and distribution levels continue to be dogged by problems. Likewise, challenges remain in the areas of system operations management, network governance, permitting, and spatial planning. Moreover, most government officials allocate an ancillary role to renewables in Turkey’s future energy mix. Wind and solar power, for example, are frequently perceived as unreliable due to the intermittency challenge. This is arguably the main reason behind the stagnant 30% target for renewable energy sources in power generation. However, the positive employment effects and health benefits of deploying renewable energies might inspire Turkish political leaders to take further steps towards a more sustainable economy.

COBENEFITS Priorities in Turkey(preliminary, in consultation)

  • Domestic renewable energy generation as an opportunity for energy independence and reconciling the import / export balance
  • Local economic prosperity and sustainable employment with renewable energy
  • Renewable energy as opportunity for business and trade in Turkey
  • Improving the local environment, protecting the culture and increasing the quality of life of Turkish people with renewable energy

COBENEFITS Council Members in Turkey

The COBENEFITS Council Members in Turkey are to be determined.

COBENEFITS Focal Point in Turkey

Istanbul Policy Center (IPC) is a Sabanci University policy research institution that specialises in key social and political issues ranging from democratisation to climate change, transatlantic relations, conflict resolution and mediation. Since its foundation in 2001, IPC has provided decision-makers, opinion leaders, and other major stakeholders with objective analyses and innovative policy recommendations. As an essential part of Sabanci University, IPC strives to foster academic research. The Center extends intellectual and substantive support to young academics and policy researchers through its various programmes.