Whither Turkey's Energy Policy?

Article excerpt

Turkey is an energy importer. It has a growing economy demanding about 7 % more energy each year. It has about 41,000 MW electric power generation capacity, and this capacity must be doubled in the next 10 year to meet the demand. Natural gas has a significant share in electricity production, which should be reduced. Domestic energy supplies and renewable energies should be employed in meeting increasing energy demand. Turkey has taken major steps toward liberalization of its energy market. Private enterprises are expected to invest in the energy market in a timely manner. The country also has the potential to be an "energy corridor" between the gas and oil producing countries and the importing European countries.

General Energy Consumption and Energy Sources

As the population and economy of a country grow, its energy demand also increases. The increase in the primary energy consumption of a developing country is higher than that of developed countries. This increase has been approximately 5.5 % for Turkey during recent decades. While the primary energy consumption of the world for 2006 totaled about 10878 mtep (million tons petroleum equivalent), it was about 99.8 mtep for Turkey. Turkey had to import 73 % of this energy from other countries. These numbers indicate that Turkey is an energy importing country.

By the year 2020, primary energy consumption in Turkey is expected to reach 222 mtep/year, and the preparations and energy policies suggest that 30 % of this amount is to be met by domestic sources. This means that for the next 13 years, Turkey targets a 3 % decrease in its dependence on foreign energy.

Table 1 lists the significant energy sources (except for biomass) in Turkey as of December 2006. As seen in the table, Turkey has very limited reserves of natural gas, oil, and coal. When the countries with oil and natural gas resources are listed, Turkey will not even be among the top 50 countries. The situation is not much better when it comes to coal reserves. Turkey has only 0.46 % of the world coal reserves. Solar energy and wind energy look promising; however, it will take years for solar-based electric power generation to compete with fossil-fuel-based electric power generation. A significant deal of effort must be put in the research and development of photovoltaic devices to make them competitive and to enable them to provide a true alternative to the traditional fossil-fuel sources.

Stating that Turkey is not rich in terms of energy sources would be a declaration of what is already known. Although there have been statements claiming Turkey to be an "island" on a sea of petroleum or to have unimaginably abundant coal reserves. Such statements are not based on factual evidence or research. Another potential of Turkey originates from its geographical position. It can be an "energy corridor" between the oil and natural gas producing countries and the countries that consume such commodities. This role has been integrated in the energy policy of the present government. Turkey is not rich in oil or natural gas reserves, yet it can provide safe and reliable means for the transport of oil and natural gas. The issue of energy supply is a top priority on the political agenda of most countries, and the possession of secure and reliable paths for oil and natural gas pipelines has become an asset for those who have them. As a potential energy corridor, Turkey occupies a unique position in the region.

Status of Electric Power Generation

Equally important to the energy resources a country has are the primary sources it uses for the generation of electric power. Naturally, domestic sources should be preferred. The share of domestic and renewable sources in electric power generation should be kept high without disturbing system stability. If that is not possible, aiming to keep that share high should be the emphasis of the country's energy policy. In recent years, the Turkish government has maintained such a policy. …