Drought-hit Turkey could face a grave energy shortage if there is no rain or snowfall in the coming weeks to fill hydroelectric dams, a senior Turkish official said Friday.
"We are at a critical point. If it does not rain or snow in February and March, we will face a serious energy crisis," the head of Turkey's waterworks institution, Dogan Altinbilek, told a news conference here.
Dams used for energy production had received a gradually decreasing amount of water over the years, he said.
They received 103 billion cubic meters (3,605 billion cubic feet) in 1998, 83 billion cubic meters (2,905 billion cubic feet) in 1999 and 78 billion cubic meters (2,730 billion cubic feet) in 2000.
"These dams have a total storage capacity of 51 billion cubic meters (1,785 billion square feet). But as of February 2001, there is only six billion cubic meters (210 billion square feet) of useable water compared to 10 billion cubic meters (350 billion square feet) in the same period last year," he added.
Altinbilek also drew a bleak picture regarding dams supplying drinking water to Turkey's three biggest cities, and dams used for irrigation.
"The amount of water in dams supplying the capital Ankara with drinking water is 14 million cubic meters (490 million square feet) less than last year," Altinbilek said.
The yearly shortfall was 82 million cubic meters (2,870 million cubic feet) for Istanbul and 53 million cubic meters (1,855 million cubic feet) for Izmir on the Aegean coast, he added.
Irrigation dams, meanwhile, had 24 percent less water than in 2000. Turkey should make more use of its potential to generate hydroelectricity in order to meet its growing electricity demand and avert possible energy shortages in the future, Altinbilek said.
"We have made use of only one third of our hydroelectricity potential until today. It is obligatory for our country's economic and strategic interest to build and operate hydroelectric projects," he said.
In October last year, Turkey ordered a series of energy-saving measures after water levels in three main dams in its southeastern region reached their lowest level in 10 years due to a severe drought, forcing cutbacks in power production.
The drought has added to an already serious power shortage in Turkey, which consumes 120 billion kWh of electricity a year, owing to the country's growing energy needs and its failure to make adequate investments in the energy sector.
Turkey's electricity demands will climb to 290 billion kWh in 2010 and to 547 billion kWh in 2020, requiring an average investment of up to five billion dollars every year, according to the energy ministry.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )