Halil Demirdağ, head of the Turkish Solar Energy Industry Association (GENSED), has told Anadolu Agency and other Turkish news outlets that the annual increase in Turkey’s PV generation for 2021 will more than double from 2020.
GENSED currently projects that PV installations in Turkey will reach around 1.5GW this year. Last year, PV installations in the country came to just 672MW. The lack of growth was attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused disruptions across the supply chain for PV products.
With the addition of 672MW, Turkey’s total PV generation rose to 6.667GW at the end of 2020.
GENSED’s data also reveal that solar PV accounted for about 4% of Turkey’s total electricity generation in 2020. For 2021, the association projects that the share figure will surpass 5% since the annual increase in newly installed capacity is expected to be much greater than the previous year.
International Energy Agency has already estimated that the annual global PV installations climbed to the level of 200GW for 2020, showing a 4% increase from 2019.
GENSED recommends that Turkey should leverage its abundant solar resource in order to effectively cut down both costly imports of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. Fostering a vibrant domestic solar industry also contributes to the domestic economy and the global efforts in fighting climate change.
This year, the Turkish government will be auctioning off 1GW of PV generation under its existing framework for renewable energy tenders — Renewable Energy Sources Zone (YEKA). The submission of the applications for these tenders is scheduled for the period from March 8 to 12.
GENSED currently expects 74 “mini” YEKA tenders for solar PV to be held in 36 districts across the country during 2021.
Turkey relies heavily on imports of fossil fuels. However, the Turkish government is aggressively promoting the adoption of renewable energies. The country’s generation capacity based on renewable energies has grown to 49.5GW over the past several years, accounting for more than 50% of the country’s total generation capacity of 95GW.
Due to its geographical characteristics, Turkey has many waterfalls that can be exploited for hydropower. In fact, hydropower accounts for the largest share of the country’s renewable generation capacity. However, GENSED points out that hydropower is unreliable, especially during the drought season. When hydropower plants (hydroelectric dams) do not perform at the normal level, oil and natural gas again play the primary role in electricity production.
GENSED suggests that PV power plants can be developed next to the existing hydropower plants. The creation of “hybrid” generation hubs around the country is cost-efficient because the existing hydropower plants already have the transmission infrastructure that can also support the new PV power plants. Since the infrastructure is already in place, the construction of a PV power plant can proceed at a faster-than-usual pace. Ultimately, solar PV can effectively complement hydropower in Turkey by providing the additional generation capacity in the summer and autumn months.
Demirdağ has stated that once in operation, the new PV power plants will be able to substitute imported fossil fuels for meeting some of the country’s energy demand during the drought season.
GENSED also points out that a strong domestic solar industry can help Turkish companies avoid the carbon tax that the EU will be levying on imported goods. In 2019, the European Commission introduced the European Green Deal. The goal is to have the wider European region achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. To reach this target, new policies are launched to raise efficiency in energy use, increase the adoption of clean energies, establish a circular economy, cut pollution, bring back biodiversity, etc. Furthermore, the Green Deal includes a potential carbon tax for exporters that cannot attain carbon neutrality in cross-border trade.
In terms of volume, nearly 50% of Turkey’s exports go to European countries (mainly Germany, Italy, and the UK). Since the European market is so important for the Turkish economy, the imposition of a carbon tax can have a devastating effect.
GENSED therefore advocates that domestic manufacturers should either install their own PV systems or source a part of their electricity consumption from PV power plants. Doing so will not only contribute to the demand growth for domestic PV generation but also mitigate the effect of a possible carbon tax imposed by EU countries in the future.