Potential For Hydroelectric Energy As Alternative Source in Turkey
Turkey’s energy demand is estimated to rise by 8 percent annually and it is anticipated that total energy need by 2020 will be around 450 billion kilowatt hours.
Amid intensifying debates on Turkey’s energy needs of and a rising oil bill, thanks to its fast paced growth, hydroelectric energy waits to be fully realized as an alternative domestic source, experts told Today’s Zaman.
Turkey’s bill for oil imports skyrocketed following the recent rise in oil prices and, according to Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, the cost could reach up to $50 billion by the end of this year. Other than oil imports, the natural gas that is widely used to produce electricity, is also priced according to world oil prices and therefore, any increase in the price of natural gas in turn is reflected on the input costs of the producers in Turkey. The cost of importing energy inputs, such as oil and natural gas, was mainly blamed for the chronic current account deficit.
The debate over how to meet the increasing energy demand in Turkey became a household topic of conversation. The disaster in Japan cast doubt on the safety of nuclear energy. During a recent visit to Russia, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a bid to put such worries at ease, assured the public that the nuclear plants to be built would be the safest ones. The fact book released by Hydroelectric Plants Industry Businessmen Association (HESİAD) highlights the importance of hydroelectric power as a domestic, reliable and renewable source of energy. According to the fact book renewable energy sources gained importance globally and hydroelectric energy stands out among renewable energy sources for Turkey because it is reliable, domestic, cost effective and more importantly eco-friendly. Furthermore, it will help to reduce Turkey’s dependency on other countries when it comes to energy.
HESİAD report states that Turkey’s annual energy demand increases by around 8 percent annually and it is estimated that the total energy need by 2020 will be around 450 billion kilowatt hours. Necdet Pamir, an energy expert and instructor at Bilkent and İstanbul Culture Universities, told Today’s Zaman that such need could be easily met through alternative and renewable energy sources that Turkey has but have yet to be fully realized.
According to Pamir, the potential of the hydroelectric energy sector in Turkey is huge. He does not buy arguments claiming that Turkey lacks sufficient alternative energy sources, adding that hydroelectric power is one of the most important energy sources to be explored since its technical and economic potential is around 140 billion kilowatt hours and could be increased to 170 billion kilowatt hours with the proper technology. Of such potential, only 35 percent of the hydroelectric energy is being realized and around 65 percent waits to be developed for Turkey’s energy needs, Pamir says.
Therefore, if managed properly, Turkey could add another 90 billion kilowatt hours to hydroelectric power and another 50 billion kilowatt hours could be saved by implementing efficient energy methods to industrial and residential areas. With another 19 billion kilowatt hours from the modernization of current power plants, along with wind power energy and solar energy, Turkey’s current and future energy demands could be easily met, Pamir says. According to Pamir, last year Turkey’s total energy demand was around 209 billion kilowatt hours. Sohbet Karbuz, a former expert at the International Energy Agency (IEA) and a senior oil markets expert at the Union of Mediterranean Countries’ Energy Companies, told Today’s Zaman that hydroelectric energy is a base-load energy source and therefore it is very reliable. Pointing to the fact that Turkey is heavily dependent on foreign energy supplies, a fact that has become increasingly more visible as its economy has experienced rapid growth, Karbuz says the country needs to explore domestic and renewable alternatives for its energy needs. “If you ask me, I’d place the hydroelectric energy at the top, followed by geothermal and nuclear energy” he says.
SOURCE: TODAYS ZAMAN
30 March 2011