Turkey, a mere 433 MW of wind power but a potential of 88,000 MW

Turkey is situated at the meeting point of three continents (Asia, Europe and Africa) and stands as a bridge between Asia and Europe. The country is located in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. Turkey has a land surface area of officially 774,815 km2. It is surrounded by the Black Sea in the North, the Marmara and the Aegean Sea on the West and the Mediterranean Sea in the South, giving it very long seashores.

In 2005, Turkey passed a Renewable Energy Law to bring the country more in line with European Union regulations. But the tariff structure offering a government guarantee of about 5 euro cents per kilowatt hour is widely seen as discouraging to investors because the rate is lower than in most European countries.

A proposed revision of the 2005 law is now before Parliament in Ankara and could improve the system, investors say, helping to release the backlog of applications to build wind farms. Opening the market “would allow small wind farms to proliferate and lead to development of regional power production,” said Murat Ozakat, managing partner in Mitra, a wind and real estate investment company based in Alacati on the Aegean coast. Turkey, which relies heavily on imported natural gas from Russia, “could produce 35 percent of its energy from hydro, 25 percent from wind, 10 percent from geothermal and the rest from gas and oil, but instead, today it’s the opposite,” Mr. Ozakat said during a recent interview.

“Turkey pays $50 billion a year to other countries for oil, gas, coal and electricity, and by 2023 it will be $100 billion if we don’t act now,” he said. “But to develop these sectors, we need longer-term credit and incentives from the government. This is a national security issue.”

Today wind power makes up 1% of energy sources in Turkey, which is below the country’s potential. In Denmark and Ireland, the ratio stands at 20%. Wind turbines provide 23,903 MW of energy in Germany and 16,740 MW in Spain but in Turkey a mere 433 MW.

In May, the Turkish government announced investment plans to promote the development of up to 20,000 MW of wind energy by 2023. System operators are currently working on plans to absorb that amount of power into the grid. The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources aims to generate 20% of its electricity production from renewable resources by 2020.

Vestas opened its Istanbul office in January of this year. Several companies currently operate Vestas wind turbines in Turkey including Borusan, Sanko, Yaþar Holding, Akenerji, Güriþ Holding and Aksa. The firm is also planning future projects with Borusan in Bandirma with Agaoglu in Mersin and with Tefirom in Hatay.

The largest single wind project in Turkey is the Gokcedag Wind Farm in Osmaniye, in southern Turkey between the cities Adana and Gaziantep. There, Rotor Elektrik, a member of Zorlu Energy Group, is installing 54 turbines built by General Electric. The project is designed to raise Turkey’s current 500 megawatt wind energy capacity by about 30 percent. Turkey’s potential for wind power generation, according to its Energy Ministry, is 48,000 megawatts.

The first wind energy power plant was generated in Germiyan Village in Çesme in Turkey on 21st February, 1998 with a 1.5 MW capacity on a wind farm. The second wind power plant was generated in November 1998, a total capacity of 7.2 MW in Alacatý, Izmir. The wind power plant of BORES (Bozcaada Wind Energy Plant ), with 10.2 MW power, was constructed in 2000 and uses 17 wind turbines. Each turbine has 600 kW power. This facility generates 35 million kWh electric energy per year. This plant has been estimated to repay its investment cost, $13 million, in six years, and its expectancy life is 30–35 years. Approximately 1/17 of the energy produced in Bozcaada is consumed locally, and the remainder is conveyed to Çanakkale region via under water wires.

Turkey has a large potential for renewable energy sources, and has the potential to fulfill its total energy needs from wind energy. The most attractive sites for wind energy utilization are the Marmara, South East Anatolian and Aegean regions. While the average density of wind power is below the 40 W/m2 in 89.3% of Turkey’s total domain, it is over 40 W/m2 in 10.7% and it exceeds 100 W/m2 in 0.8%. There are also some regions of Turkey where average density of wind power reaches 294.1 W/m2 level.

Potential wind energy areas of Turkey lie generally in the northwestern, northern and Aegean coastal regions. Other fields lie in the Middle Black Sea and East Mediterranean regions of Turkey. Additionally, Southeastern parts can produce wind energy. In spite of the fact that the technical potential of Turkey’s wind energy is approximately 88,000 MW, its total established power is only 20.1 MW according to data for 2003.

Turkey is a rapidly growing energy consumer and domestic energy production has not exceeded half the energy demand. Energy is essential to the economic and social development and will improve the quality of life in Turkey. Because of technological and economical factors, renewable energy sources do not have wide application either in the world or in Turkey at present. Existing wind electricity producing companies should be encouraged and supported by the government while new financing mechanisms are needed to promote investment in wind energy. Turkish population is widely spread to rural areas.

Wind and other renewable sources are very much appropriate for those who need electricity power living in isolated communities. Instead of spending in transmission lines from on-grid electricity sources, making an investment to wind plants, supported by solar power systems will be much beneficial, as these sources do not harm the environment. Since there are a number of regions with relatively high wind speeds, proper sites for wind energy utilization should be investigated and wind power plants should be installed.

More effort is needed to erect windmills for water pumping and electricity generation in rural areas with high wind energy potential.Since the geography of Turkey provides appropriate meteorological conditions for the wind energy generation, it is inevitable to support the wind energy initiatives. Wind speed and energy maps of Turkey have been presented and the potential areas are identified with the emphasis on their significance. In general, potential wind energy areas in Turkey lie in the northwestern and northern parts and at locations along the Aegean Sea coast. These regions are highly suitable for the wind energy generation, since the wind speeds exceed 3 m/s in most of these areas. Other potential areas are along the middle Black Sea region and eastern Mediterranean areas. These are all along the sea coasts, but among the inland areas, Diyarbakýr in southeastern Anatolia provides a potential area. However, the whole area of the country should be examined to detect the fields proper for the establishment of the wind turbine farms and public initiatives should start establishing the wind energy farms for the chosen areas. 

Aegean, Marmara, and East-Mediterranean regions of Turkey are generally seen as promising of higher wind power potential compared to other parts of Turkey. The most single locations are in the Gökçeada Island, Çeþme and Bandýrma area. Turkey’s total theoretically available potential for wind power is estimated to be around 88,000 MW.