Turkey: Environmental Issues – part two:

Published March 13th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Energy Consumption: 

Turkish energy consumption has risen dramatically over the past 20 years. From just 1.0 quadrillion Btu (quads) in 1980, Turkey's domestic energy consumption has nearly tripled, reaching a level of 2.9 quads in 1998.  


Although this is still low relative to similar-sized countries such as Germany (13.8 quads), France (10.0 quads), and Poland (3.5 quads), Turkey's upward trend may mean it will surpass these countries in the future. 


Of Turkey's total energy consumption, fully 50 percent is used by the industrial sector, with residential at 27 percent, transportation at 16.4 percent, and commercial 6.7 percent. Oil accounts for 43.9 percent of this consumption, with coal at 26.7 percent and natural gas at 13.2 percent but rising.  


Although analysts have said that Turkey's continually increasing energy consumption is needed to power the country's developing economy, environmental critics believe that Turkey's economic policies have encouraged energy waste. 


Because the Turkish energy sector is mainly state-owned, critics charge that the government's pricing policy has encouraged the inefficient use of energy. Experts claim that about 22 percent of energy generated in Turkey is lost because of inefficient distribution and relay systems. In turn, they argue, this energy waste has necessitated the accelerated growth in energy demand and imports. 


Carbon Emissions: 

Turkey's carbon emissions have risen in line with the country's energy consumption. Since 1980, Turkey's energy-related carbon emissions have jumped from 18 million metric tons annually to 47.1 million metric tons in 1998. Once again, while this is low compared to other IEA countries, the upward trend and the rate of increase are alarming. 


Turkey is not a party to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or the Kyoto Protocol, meaning the country has no binding requirements to cut carbon emissions by the 2008-2012 period as most other IEA countries have.  


However, Turkey has established a National Climate Coordination Group (NCCG) to carry out the national studies in line with those conducted by all countries of the UNFCC. The Climate Coordination Group has published several influential findings, including the "National Report on the Protection of the Atmosphere and Climate Change" and a "National Report on Energy and Technology."  


Armed with the research of the NCCG and with studies underway for a National Climate Programme, Turkey is considering accession to the Kyoto Protocol. Additional pressure to meet EU standards make it increasingly likely that Turkey will accept some level of binding emission reduction requirements in the foreseeable future.  


Energy and Carbon Intensity: 

In 1998, Turkey's level of energy intensity--energy consumption per GDP dollar--stood at 13,800 Btu/$1990, a rate very comparable to that of the United States (13,400 Btu/$1990). Turkish carbon intensity in 1998 was 0.23 metric tons of carbon/thousand $1990, also similar to the U.S. intensity of 0.21 metric tons of carbon/thousand $1990.  


Despite upward trends in recent years, Turkey still has the lowest energy-related CO2 emissions per capita and energy consumption per capita among IEA countries. In 1998, Turkey's carbon emissions per capita were 0.7 metric tons (compared to the U.S. value of 5.5 metric tons).  


Turkey's per capita energy consumption was 45.6 million Btu in 1998, compared to 350.7 million Btu in the U.S., 177.3 million Btu in Russia, 168.6 million Btu in Germany, and 90.8 million Btu in Poland.  


However, since 1992 energy consumption per capita in Turkey has increased by 25.6 percent, while it has risen only 4.6 percent in the United States, declined by 24.6 percent in Russia, by 8.5 percent in Poland, and 2.8 percent in Germany. 


With emissions and consumption on the rise, the IEA has urged Turkey to adopt more energy-efficient policies. In addition to implementing policies expanding the use of natural gas for electricity generation and in residential heating, the IEA believes that Turkey should increase insulation to raise performance of heating systems in buildings.  


Market reform--especially price reform--should lead to more efficient energy use as the disincentive to energy conservation is removed. As businesses and households are forced to pay more for their energy usage, consumers will look for ways to reduce their energy use. 


Increased dissemination of information on energy savings measures will benefit consumers in Turkey, and undertaking energy audits will help industry become more energy efficient and reduce energy waste. 


Renewable Energy: 

Non-fossil energy sources have a high share of energy supply in Turkey. Hydroelectric power already accounts for about 40 percent of electricity demand, and there is much additional potential for growth.  


In 1999, 108 hydroelectric power plants were in operation, with 38 more under construction. Ultimately, 339 more hydroelectric plants are projected to make use of remaining sites, giving Turkey a potential of 69,051 gigawatt-hours per year. 


Turkey's rapid growth in hydroelectric production (expected to double by 2010) in the water-starved Middle East has provoked disputes with neighboring countries. Both Syria and Iraq have been at odds with Turkey's proposed construction of dams on the Euphrates (Syria) and Tigris Rivers (Iraq) that threaten to choke off water supply to their countries.  


The $1.6-billion Ilusu hydroelectric dam project on the Tigris River, part of the wide-ranging Southeast Anatolia Project for economic development in the region, has the financial backing of a consortium made up of the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, and Germany.  


The consortium backed the dam scheme to allow Turkey to generate electricity with hydro power rather than to rely on nuclear, but the project has come under fire from protesters who allege that it will mean the destruction of 52 villages and 15 towns in the heart of Kurdish-populated areas and displace 20,000 people. 


The plan also is controversial on environmental grounds because it would destroy a designated archaeological site, provide poor reservoir quality through raw sewage discharges into the dam, and potentially have significant downstream consequences for the water supply in both Iraq and Syria. 


In addition to hydroelectric power, Turkey is encouraging the construction of wind power plants. The first facility was commissioned in December 1998, and the country has a goal of deriving 2% of its electricity from wind power.  


Turkey has extended its involvement in geothermal energy projects, supported by loans from the Ministry of Environment, and geothermal energy is expected to increase substantially. The country's first nuclear power plant is planned for Akkuyu on Turkey's Mediterranean coast but has raised the ire of environmentalists, who say that what is needed is not more power generation but more efficient relay and distribution systems.  


Also, environmentalists point to the fact that the proposed site is less than 15 miles from an active geological fault line, which stirs safety fears in light of the earthquakes of 1999. In early March 2000, the Turkish government once again delayed an announcement of the winning bid for Akkuyu, for which the tender process began in 1996. 


While renewable energy sources have made great inroads in Turkey's energy supply mix, there is a need for more research and development on renewable energies to increase their efficient utilization. Although hydroelectric resources are being developed, the extensive use of wood in households has contributed greatly to urban air pollution, as well as created problems with deforestation.  


Additionally, Turkey needs to create a level playing field for renewables by allowing prices of conventional fuels to rise to market levels. This would help diversify and increase the use of alternative energies as sources for transport, such as natural gas-operated municipal buses and electricity-operated railway systems. 


Turkey in the 21st Century: 

As Turkey steers itself towards meeting EU membership criteria, it should see increased energy efficiency. The growth in energy consumption should wane as state subsidies are eliminated and prices more accurately reflect costs.  


Yet, there will still be much room for improvement, and Turkey's vigilance in safeguarding its environment will be key to the continuance of its economic development. 


To the extent that natural gas replaces more carbon-intensive fuels, the country's increased use of natural gas will further diversify the Turkish energy supply and contribute to the mitigation of urban pollution and CO2 emissions.  


By setting differentiated taxes to promote the use of cleaner fuels (and, in particular, to promote the use of low-sulfur heavy fuel oil), Turkey can significantly stem the rising tide of carbon emissions. Continuing to educate the public about the benefits of saving energy, as well as involving large industries in energy efficiency programs, will lead to long-term positive effects for Turkey's economy and environment. 


Finally, Turkey's State Planning Organization, together with the World Bank, is coordinating a project called the "Turkish National Environmental Strategy and Action Plan" to implement activities in Turkey related to Agenda 21. 


By establishing basic environmental standards and identifying environmental investment priorities, Turkey can integrate sustainable policies into its overall economic development, thereby safeguarding its environment well into the future. 

March 2000 

Source:United States Energy Information Administration.. 

© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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