Turkey's Sabanci Holding will invest $450 million in wind power by creating an additional 565 megawatts (MW) to generate electricity by 2023, Kivanc Zaimler, energy group president at the conglomerate told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
The additional megawatts will come from new plant installations in Turkey's Aegean cities of Aydin and Canakkale totaling 500 MW with the remaining 65 MW from a new plant in Kayseri in Central Anatolia.
"Currently, we are working on project development. Our target is to start power generation from the plants by 2023. With this capacity increase, our total power generation capacity will reach 4,150 MW," Zaimler said.
Sustainability and new technologies are at the heart of the company’s investment plans, including Sabanci Holding's energy companies - Enerjisa Enerji and Enerjisa Uretim (Enerjisa Production), which operate in power distribution and generation, respectively.
While Enerjisa Uretim will carry out the new wind plant investments, its sister company, Enerjisa Enerji, has already completed investments totaling 1.3 billion Turkish liras in the first nine months of this year.
Speaking on the impacts of COVID-19 on Turkey's power demand and company operations, Zaimler said the country's power demand showed a fluctuating trend, especially in the second quarter of this year due to the pandemic.
"But it started to normalize in August and Turkey's power consumption seems to have mounted slightly on last year's levels. In this regard, Turkey showed a positive difference compared to developed European nations," he said.
Zaimler said that despite uncertainties due to the COVID-19, the consolidated income of the Sabanci energy companies in the nine months of this year increased by 22% to reach 23.6 billion liras.
"Our operating margin and net profit grew by 17% and 32% in this period. Our year-end expectation is that this trend will continue in the same way," he said.
- Solar and wind to account for majority of new investments
Zaimler hailed renewables as a source that will be important for Turkey’s energy future by generating cheaper electricity in the long term, thanks to a decrease in equipment costs particularly for solar and wind, which he said, in turn, would enhance the country’s renewables competitiveness.
He expects that renewables will account for the majority of the new investments in the country supported by definitive new plant investments that will expand business for local equipment manufacturers while also greatly contributing to equipment localization.
Turkey's renewable energy capacity has reached over 48,500 MW, accounting for half of the total installed power. Over the next 10 years, the country plans to create 10,000 MW of additional solar and wind capacity.
Zaimler envisages natural gas-powered plants playing a big role in conjunction with renewables to offer flexible electricity generation.
“Currently, Turkey needs these gas-powered plants in the coming 10 years to meet demand because storage technologies are not yet mature enough to store renewable electricity," he said.
Although he does not see any new natural gas plant investments in Turkey, he advised the sustainable and efficient use of the country’s current gas capacity given their critical role in energy security.
As natural gas is a high-cost import, Turkey wants to keep the share of natural gas plants for electricity generation below 20%. In the first half of this year, Turkey's power generation from natural gas plants dropped dramatically with falling demand from COVID-19 and high generation from renewables.
However, as output from renewables, particularly hydro plants, started to fall while power demand increased, the share of natural gas plants in electricity generation also began to grow.
According to the International Energy Agency's (IEA) latest Electricity Market Report, the largest contributor to additional gas burn in the European power sector was Turkey, where gas-fired generation grew 11% year-over-year.
The IEA said this was primarily driven by lower output from lignite-fired plants from which power generation dropped by 20%, as some plants were halted for not complying with environmental regulations by Jan. 1, 2020.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya