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Turkey driving renewable energy growth in the MENAT region
by Staff Writers
Istanbul, Turkey (SPX) Nov 19, 2015

The Turkish government has set a target of drawing 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2023 - the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic and its self-imposed deadline for achieving all EU membership conditions.

Ever increasing demand for energy in Turkey is boosting the growth of renewable energy - most notably wind - in the MENAT region. Other significant opportunities for material, component and equipment suppliers to the renewable energy industry are to be found in Morocco and Egypt.

Turkey is fast emerging as the MENAT region's largest producer of renewable energy. Out of the 14.6 GW of new renewable power generation capacity installed in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey between 2010 and 2014, three quarters of it was in Turkey.

Excepting recent headwinds, the Turkish economy has rapidly expanded since 2010 - and with it the demand for power. Energy consumption in Turkey has increased at an average of 5.7% per year in stark contrast to Europe's overall decline.

At the same time Turkey is looking to limit its dependence on fossil fuel and energy imports for reasons both political (trade relations) and economic (fluctuating oil and gas prices). The inherently 'green' nature of renewable energy also boosts Turkey's ability to meet European environmental standards and thus potentially achieve EU membership.

"The demand for energy combined with governmental support makes conditions increasingly favourable for renewable energy producers in Turkey at the moment, as well as for the material, component and equipment manufacturers that supply them," says Josefin Berg, senior analyst at IHS Technology's Power and Energy division.

Attractive prospects
The Turkish government has set a target of drawing 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2023 - the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic and its self-imposed deadline for achieving all EU membership conditions. This target will be achieved by increasing the current hydropower capacity from the current 23GW to 32GW and wind capacity from 3GW to 10GW. The solar capacity target was raised to 5GW in 2015.

"Turkey is unique in the MENAT region in that its hydropower resources remain largely untapped. Opportunities within the hydropower industry are fewer across the region as a whole," she says.

Seven hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 1GW have been installed in Turkey during the first half of 2015 alone. These installations have been bolstered by the feed-in tariff introduced by the Turkish government in 2010, offering all power plants built between 2005 and 2015 a fixed energy sale price for 10 years.

The upper limit for commissioning has recently been raised to 2020. The feed-in tariff scheme also includes a five-year bonus for projects with locally-manufactured components, including turbines, generators and power electronics.

The feed-in tariff and local content requirements are also supporting the germination of the Turkish solar power industry. The first solar plant projects are planned to break ground in 2016 but some local manufacturing facilities for components are already coming into operation. The main benefit of solar over hydro and wind power is that the plants can be smaller and require fewer permits.

"In general, however, solar panel and component manufacturers are waiting to see whether the Turkish solar industry takes off before they start investing in local production facilities" Berg says. "The real success story of the Turkish renewable energy industry is wind power."

Since 2010 Turkey has added 3GW of wind capacity out of a total 3.9GW for the entire MENAT region.

"Given the high market power price for wind plants, driven by sheer energy demand, it has been more attractive to sell energy at the market price instead of the feed-in tariff. This has driven a lot of activity in the market because it has been considered profitable to build wind plants without any direct subsidies," she explains.

This means that many wind plants installed in Turkey do not fall under the local content scheme, leaving doors open for international suppliers with foreign manufacturing. "Most Turkish wind developers are sourcing locally where it makes sense but not making a special effort to ensure local content," she says.

"However, this might change now as lower power prices are encouraging developers to shift over to the feed-in tariff, which will make them pay more attention to local manufacturing."

Additional opportunities in Morocco and Egypt
Elsewhere in the MENAT region, renewable energy generation remains at a low level in countries with their own oil and gas reserves. Those that do not are looking to become more independent regarding energy generation and less vulnerable to fluctuating oil and gas prices or political relations with neighbours - similar to Turkey.

These activities have been supported by international development funds, such as from the World Bank or the European Development Bank. The two most active countries are Morocco and Egypt.

Morocco has set a target to install 6GW of solar, wind and hydro capacity by 2020. The majority of this will come from solar and wind but the country will also be renovating existing hydropower plants. Egypt, meanwhile, has set a target of drawing 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Berg will be discussing opportunities for renewable energy component and equipment suppliers in the MENAT region in more detail at the CWIEME Istanbul exhibition later this month. Her session - the opening keynote speech of the show - will take place on Wednesday 18th November at 10am. CWIEME Istanbul seminars are held in English and Turkish and are free for all visitors to attend.

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