Turkey, Economy

'Renewables could solve Turkey's energy crisis'

Sadrettin Karahocagil, president of the Southeastern Anatolia Project, says renewable hydro, solar and biomass energy could address Turkey's energy needs

'Renewables could solve Turkey's energy crisis'

By Nihan Cabbaroglu


Turkey’s long-running Southeastern Anatolia Project could provide the answer to Turkey’s energy crisis, the project’s president said.

Sadrettin Karahocagil outlined how renewable energy from the project, mostly hydroelectric but also solar and biomass, could benefit all Turkey.

“Turkey has a serious deficit in energy which is up to $60 billion,” Karahocagil said. “It is a serious amount. There will be times when we can’t find energy. [The project] is a solution, a preparation for those times. We must use both solar and biomass.”

The project, known by its Turkish acronym GAP, is a development project that aims to improve living standards in Turkey’s poorer south-east provinces.

Originally a watering and agriculture project begun in 1977, GAP now focuses on boosting productivity and employment opportunities in the countryside through water and energy projects.

Hydroelectric schemes are a major source of energy in the region, largely focused on the river systems that lead into the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

More than 40 dams and hydro plants have been built, providing 20 billion kilowatts per hour.

The use of biomass – biological material, usually plants, which can be converted into biofuel – is the project’s current priority because of the agricultural potential of the region.

“The watering projects are expected to reach 70 percent of total irrigable area, which means one-third of total agricultural land,” Karahocagil said.

“The productive power that will arise after that will seriously contribute to biomass. When production is seven-fold, the biomass potential will be seven times higher too. We want to be prepared for that.”

The GAP is offering feasibility studies and technical support and plan to prepare a grant scheme to encourage farmers to grow biomass plants, Karahocagil added.

To increase the use of renewable resources, the United Nations Development Program and the GAP launched a joint project in 2012 to expand the renewable use in power and heat generation and to promote energy efficiency.

The GAP funds the 9.8 million Turkish liras ($4.3 million) project, with the UN providing technical support.


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