Despite recent slowdowns, Turkey remains one of Europe’s leading markets for future hydropower development due to a combination of abundant resources, a supportive government, and favourable policy framework.
Sitting at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, Turkey is a high-altitude country with over 25 river basins, including the trans-boundary Tigris and Euphrates rivers. As part of its potential accession to the EU, Turkey has integrated its electricity infrastructure with that of Europe, while at the same time pursuing a strategy of overall energy diversification, including the development of all types of renewable energy.
Furthermore, electricity demand in Turkey is forecast to grow by more than 90 per cent over the next ten years, adding to the suite of drivers for hydropower development.
Turkey has ambitious plans for hydropower over the coming decade. The country is aiming to mark its 100 years as a republic in 2023 with a total installed electric power capacity of 100 GW – up from 32 GW in 2002 and 64 GW in 2014 – with 30 per cent of electricity generation coming from renewables.
This rate was around 20 per cent in 2014 due to low rainfall. The country is pushing ahead with its formidable goal to exploit all of its estimated 166,000 GWh/year of economical hydropower potential, which would include an expected total of about 24,000 hydropower plants.
To date, roughly 50 per cent of this potential has been tapped, with a further 15 per cent under construction, leaving the country with some way to go in achieving its target. At the end of 2014, Turkey’s installed hydropower capacity was 23.6 GW, producing 40,400 GWh/year of electricity.
Turkey has a suite of policies that will support hydropower development, including a 30 per cent target for renewables by 2023, a feed-in-tariff for projects completed by the end of 2015, VAT and customs exemptions, and licence fee exemptions for renewable projects.
In early 2015, the Turkish Government announced it would allocate USD 16 billion to hydro development until 2018 as part of its Tenth Development Plan. In addition, deregulation of the power sector has encouraged private investment, with independent power producers taking on the bulk of new developments.
Hydropower development will be further supported by Turkey’s interconnections into the European grid and potential for further linkages east into Asia.
In 2003, Turkey liberalised its energy market and embarked on a process of privatising existing assets as well as attracting private sector investment into new projects, although several strategic hydropower facilities will be exempted from the privatisation programme. In recent years, E.ON and Statkraft have made major investments in the country, while China has engaged through a plan to develop hydropower with local companies.
In 2014, Turkey commissioned seven projects (not including micro hydro schemes), including the Arkun Barajı (245 MW), Kavşak Bendi (190 MW), and Yamanly (88 MW) stations. The 102 MW Kargı project was commissioned in August 2015.
It is estimated that there is now up to 15 GW of new capacity currently under construction in Turkey, including the Yusufeli (540 MW), Çetin (517 MW) and Kığı (180 MW) projects.