Almost half of Turkiye's open-cast coal mines are suitable for conversion to solar farms which could generate enough solar power to meet the needs of almost 7 million homes annually, according to a new study on Wednesday.
The Solar Potential of Coal Sites in Turkey report analyzed 22 open-cast mines that provide coal for 10,495 megawatts of total installed capacity of coal plants in Turkiye.
The report was prepared by Solar3GW for Europe Beyond Coal, European Climate Action Network (CAN Europe), Greenpeace Mediterranean, WWF-Turkey (World Wide Fund for Nature), Climate Change Policy and Research Association, 350.org, Ekosfer and Yuva Association.
The report found that an additional 13,189 megawatts of solar power could be installed in these open-cast coal mines. Potential solar capacity in open-cast coal mines in country corresponds to almost 170% rise from current installed capacity.
The potential solar capacity from open-cast coal mines of 19,079 gigawatt-hours of electricity could meet the electricity needs of almost 7 million homes.
Furthermore, converting half of Turkey’s open-cast coal mines would reduce CO2 emissions by 12.4 million tonnes per year, the report calculated.
- A quarter of Turkiye's greenhouse gas emissions originate from coal
WWF-Turkey Climate and Energy Program Manager, Tanyeli Behic Sabuncu, said a quarter of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions originate from coal, leading to premature deaths and exacerbating the climate crisis.
'If we are sincere in our goal of being net zero by 2053, we must urgently plan the exit from coal,' he underlined.
Duygu Kutluay, a campaigner for Europe Beyond Coal, explained that Turkiye has recently revised up its climate ambitions by ratifying the Paris Agreement and setting a net zero goal.
'In a fortuitous arc of history, the mines that have provided the coal which has so damaged our climate and communities can play a vital role in decarbonizing our energy systems, and tackling the climate crisis,' Kutluay said.
'The sooner we start delivering on these targets, the greater the benefits will be for our health and our economy, which was hit hard by last year's climate change-induced wildfires,” she said.
She advocated for the adoption of such an energy plant, as converting open-cast coal mines to solar farms would cut Turkiye’s annual CO2 emissions by an equivalent amount to approximately 50 million passengers flying from Istanbul and Rome.
Bahadir Turhan, chairman of the board at Solar3GW, noted that the study confirms that countries with large open-cast coal mines should be viewing them as renewable energy transition assets.
'They have a cost advantage over virgin plots as they come ready equipped with much of the necessary infrastructure required to host solar installations and when you kit them out with advanced battery storage systems, they are able to consistently deliver a base load of cheap, clean, fossil-free energy,' he said.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya