Energy savings hoped to avoid a dark winter in Turkey
A cold, dark winter has become a real threat to Turkey once more following a long period of insufficient investment in the power sector, energy officials warned.
Energy demand, which goes up 8.5 percent per year, cannot be met with existing capacity. Savings circulars that came into force on Aug. 8 have not brought the expected results and electricity cuts may begin in November, the officials have said recently.
Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer said the coming winter could be the most difficult Turkey has seen in years. This follows a hard winter last year, when the country experienced frequent power and heating cuts because of a shortfall in the supply of the natural gas that runs power plants.
Energy officials were expected to ask the government to enforce savings measures to avoid unlit nights.
It is said that 42 percent of state offices have not complied with savings measures and use electricity for lighting at night and municipalities use a lot of energy for lighting. This
electricity is free and constitutes 6 percent of electricity consumption in
Turkey, amounting to 3.15 billion kwh.
The Turkish Electricity Corporation's (TEAS) financial difficulties are the reason for the failure to invest in the energy sector and to revamp power lines to prevent electricity losses.
While the per kwh production cost is four cents in TEAS's own power plants, the figure is eight or nine cents in private plants built on the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model due to contracts being ratified at high prices, draining TEAS funds for investments.
Energy Ministry officials said that while Turkey consumed 119 billion kwh last year, it produced 116.5 billion kwh of energy and the gap between production and consumption will grow wider this year.
Inadequate water levels at dams is also a problem, worsening the energy balances and threatening to leave Turkey in the dark.
Although the government is considering increasing production and imports from neighboring Bulgaria and Georgia, it is clear that this will not cover the deficit. All sorts of other measures - including a shift in office hours - will be discussed in the Cabinet, said Ersumer, the energy minister.
If the energy-saving measures are enforced effectively, it is possible that 10-15 million kwhs of energy can be saved, said Ersumer. He said turning off street lights could save 2.5 million kwhs. An additional 20-30 million kwh could be saved if office hours are shortened by doing away with the one-hour lunch break and finishing the day at 4 p.m.
Ersumer said that if private businesses contribute to savings measures through the help of chambers of industry and commerce, 50 million kwh can be saved a month. The minister described the November-March period as particularly critical and added that mobile power plants will start working to avoid cuts during these months.
The minister also said that Georgia was asked to raise its electricity exports to Turkey by 100 percent. Bulgaria also was asked to increase imports. Even so, experts say that transmission lines between Turkey and these countries already are being used to excess.
Ersumer himself asked the Iranian and Russian ambassadors to raise their exports of natural gas to Turkey and also inquired about the possibility of purchasing electricity from both countries. Russia agreed to raise electricity exports from 70 to 100 million kwh and raise natural
gas exports by 45 million cubic meters.
Energy Undersecretary Yurdakul Yigitguden, meanwhile, emphasized the urgent need for investment in the energy sector. He said that Turkey's consumption would go up four times by 2020 to 465 billion kwh.
Another problem is the low level of water in Turkey's huge eastern dams Keban, Karakaya and Ataturk, which generate 20 percent of Turkey's electricity. It is said that it is possible the Keban dam might stop producing electricity in November if insufficient rain falls.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Turkish Association of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSIAD), Erkut Yucaoglu, said that electricity cuts would cost the Turkish industrial and export sectors. He supported the savings measures, but asked the government to complete power projects and open up the sector to private hands. – (Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)