Low on energy
Turkey’s energy woes persist despite efforts to increase domestic production
1 Total electricity production
In the first 11 months of the year, total electricity production remained more or less the same (or more accurately, decreased slightly by less than one percent). There were shifts, however, in the electricity generation mix but those shifts did little to reduce Turkey’s reliance on imported energy.
2 The mix
Total electricity production in Turkey in the first 11 months of the year decreased slightly to 225.09 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh). The primary source of electricity generation was natural gas at 83.73 billion kWh. Coal (thermal power plants) came second with 60.69 billion kWh followed by hydroelectric at 54.07 billion kWh.
3 Shifting away from natural gas
The share of imported natural gas in electricity generation decreased dramatically compared to the same period last year, from 44 percent in the first 11 months of 2017 to 37.20 percent this year, creating a gap of 16.5 billion kWh that was primarily filled by another imported resource: coal. Electricity production from coal plants increased by 4.66 percentage points to 26.96 percent, making up for 10.5 billion kWh of the gap. The remainder was replaced by wind and geothermal, domestic and renewable sources.
4 Share of coal electricity increased
Making matters worse, the increase in electricity production from coal was based on an increase in imported coal – up by 23.21 percent – while the use of domestic sources like hard coal and asphaltite actually decreased by 5.33 percent and 14.72 percent respectively.
5 All things remain equal
Thus, resource substitution has not had a meaningful effect on reducing Turkey’s reliance on imported energy. The 10.5 billion kWh of the 16.5 billion electricity shortfall from reducing gas fired plants was replaced by imported coal.
Other than imported coal, the main sources which replaced natural gas were renewables, primarily wind and geothermal. In the first 11 months this year, wind farms produced approximately 2.75 billion kWh more electricity than the same period last year while geothermal plants increased their energy output by 1.5 billion kWh.
7 Dams on the decline
The question of hydroelectric power is controversial but worth a closer look. There was a slight increase in the amount of electricity produced by hydroelectric plants, pushing up its share of total production to 24 percent. But it looks unlikely that water can replace natural gas. Even though the amount of electricity produced by river power plants - which truly deserve the title of renewable resource - increased by almost 8 percent, the 1.06 percent decline in dams-based hydroelectric power limited the overall increase to a mere 1.6 percent.
8 More wind, please
The share of wind power plants (WPPs) in total electricity production in Turkey is increasing. In the first 11 months of last year, the amount of electricity supplied by the WPPs was 15.56 billion kWh. This year, it reached 18.27 billion kWH. Thus, the share of WPPs in total electricity production increased from 6.86 percent to 8.12 percent and is expected to continue increasing to 11 percent when the power plants under construction are completed. In addition, as wind turbines become more efficient, the potential for wind power will continue to grow.
9 Geothermal quietly on the rise
In the meantime, although the share of total installed geothermal power plants (GPPs) remains very low, the power they generate is remarkable and deserves attention. In the first 11 months of the year, the amount of electricity generated from GPPs increased by 31 percent compared to the same period last year, exceeding 6.2 billion kilowatt hours. Thus, the share of GPPs in total electricity generation reached 2.8 percent from 2.09 percent.
10 GPP workhorses
Despite the low share in installed capacity, the high share in total production is due to the fact that the annual working hours of GPPs are much higher than wind and solar plants. However, the fact that the mechanism for supporting domestic and renewable resources (YEKDEM) will end in 2020 is making it difficult for GPP investors. The key players in the sector continue to lobby government to introduce a new mechanism to replace YEKDEM in order to prevent the interruption of investments.