This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Turkey Country Manager Semih Ergur
The installed capacity of electricity generation industry in Turkey—utilizing all kinds of sources—is around 95000 MW. Of this capacity, 27% is Combined Cycle Natural Gas Power Plants (CCNG PP), 21% is coal fired power plants, 32% is hydro, 10% wind, 8% solar, and 2% other renewable energy sources. Currently there is no operating nuclear power plant (NPP) in Turkey.
Due to scarcity of local capacity, all the natural gas and almost half of the coal is imported, creating a major burden on the balance of payments of the country. The hydro power plants are hugely dependent on seasonal fluctuations of the rain and snow accumulations. The average capacity utilization of the wind farms is around 40%, meaning only 40% of the year the production can be achieved. For instance, solar panels can only support the grid during day time. Given the above structure, base load generation unfortunately mostly depends on coal—which is not the most environmentally friendly of materials.
Turkish Electricity Board and Turkish Government have been keeping a NPP investment plan on the agenda since the mid-70s. An agreement with ROSATOM, a Russian state owned NPP company, was signed in 2015 to erect a NPP with 4800 MW (4×1200 MW) capacity. The NPP is a Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR), which is the most widely used technology in the world. The construction is ongoing with a joint team of Russian and Turkish staff scheduled to complete the first unit by 2023. The location is on the south coast of Turkey in order to use sea water as coolant. The other three units will be operative until 2028. Once completed, the plan is to generate around 5% of the total needs of the country via nuclear power. ROSATOM strongly claims the safety design specifications of the Project have been amended seriously after the unfortunate events of Chernobyl (Russia) and Fukushima (Japan). As per the agreement with ROSATOM, the used fuel rods will be stored in safe zones in Russia.
There is a significant reaction among citizens against the ongoing construction of a nuclear power plant for two reasons. Firstly, as in every country, there is a feeling that the environmental concerns have not been fully examined. Secondly, the off-take guarantee provided to ROSATOM is to purchase the energy at a price almost 3-4 times the local free market price.
The plan of the Government is to commence the construction of another NPP on the Black Sea cost of Turkey before 2030 if financing can be obtained. The dependence of Turkish energy sector on coal and/or nuclear will diminish should the technology of energy storage be available for use by renewable sources on a continuous basis.