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US-Dutch firm to build Europe's biggest solar plant in Turkey

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News | 3/28/2011 12:00:00 AM | GÖKHAN KURTARAN

A U.S.-Dutch solar company has started talks with a local energy firm to build Turkey’s first and Europe’s biggest photovoltaic power station

GiraSolar, a U.S.-Dutch solar company, has begun talks with a local energy firm to build Turkey’s first and Europe’s biggest photovoltaic power station while also manufacturing solar panels for export to Europe.

“We are planning to build Europe’s biggest solar plant in Turkey,” Chief Executive Officer Wieland M. Koornstra told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review during a Dutch business mission to Istanbul last week. The mission, which included representatives from 22 companies, was led by Henk Bleker, the Dutch minister for agriculture and foreign trade.

Noting the importance of Turkey in the world’s solar energy sector, Koornstra said GiraSolar had held talks with a Turkish energy giant on building a solar power station in the south of Turkey. He said the plant would generate 100 megawatts of energy.

The largest photovoltaic, or PV, power plants in Europe were Montalto di Castro Photovoltaic Power Station in Italy (84.2 MW), Finsterwalde Solar Park in Germany, (80.7 MW), Rovigo Photovoltaic Power Plant in Italy (70 MW), Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park in Spain (60 MW), Strasskirchen Solar Park (54 MW) and Lieberose Photovoltaic Park in Germany (53 Mwat the end of 2010.

On average, 1 MW of power can supply electricity to as many as 300 households per year.

Koornstra said the company planned to manufacture the solar panels in Turkey rather than importing.

“I am completely sure that we could manufacture the panels at the same price as China,” he said. “In this way, we would avoid the transportations cost as well.”

Noting that there is no solar panel market yet in Turkey, Koornstra said: “We are planning to export the solar panels to European countries. Many firms will inquire about Turkish-made solar panels once we complete this solar power station project in the country.”

According to the Turkish Renewable Energy Law, the purchase price for electricity generated from solar power is $0.133 per kilowatt hour. The law also offers a further incentive to renewable energy facilities and states that, provided the technical equipment used in the facility is produced within Turkey’s borders, the facility will be paid an additional $0.004-0.024 per kilowatt hour of electricity purchased by the state for five years after the plant becomes active.

[HH] Turkish partner anonymous

Without disclosing the name of the company, Koornstra said: “We are [currently] having discussions with our Turkish partner about the project. At the start of the project nearly 200 million euros will be invested in the power plant.”

According to data provided by the chief executive, 20 percent of the amount is slated to be invested by the business partner while nearly 80 percent of the amount could be met with outsource sources, such as Eximbank credits. “We are now also discussing the financial matter with our Turkish partner,” he said.

“To produce 1 MW electricity we will need nearly 2,000 square meters of land,” said Koornstra. “We are in search of the most feasible location at the moment.”

Noting that the project might be completed gradually over time depending on conditions, Koornstra said, “We could build the plant within two years.”

“It takes four to five years to build a nuclear plant. Nearly 20 percent of the total amount of the investment will come from our partner and 80 percent financing will be outsourced,” said Koornstra. “If we build this plant, this would make Turkey known as the solar source of the world.”

In the long term, it is better for Turks to have solar panels in their houses than buy power from the grid, he said.

Talking about the nuclear plant to be built in Akkuyu, in the southern province of Mersin, Koornstra said, “Turkey should use hybrid energy rather than relying on nuclear energy.”

“They always told us that it was safe and stable and now it’s obvious that it’s neither safe nor stable,” he said.

Koornstra said Germany and the Netherlands were facing storage problems for nuclear waste accumulated through the years. “They both stored nuclear waste in layers under the ground and they have leakage.”

Noting that hybrid energy sources such as wind and solar plants are safe and sustainable for the economy and environment, Koornstra said solar power had become more affordable in recent years, adding that such power presented none of the running costs, storage problems or maintenance problems of nuclear plants.

Recent research at Duke University has shown that sophisticated new solar energy production methods make the cheapest and least hazardous energy source that is cheaper and safer than nuclear power, according to United Press International, or UPI. The study said the cost of producing and installing PV cells had been steadily dropping for years and now cost about half of what it did in 1998.

In the U.S., the price of nuclear energy through 2011 is expected to equal $0.16-0.18 per kilowatt while solar PV is forecast to cost $0.14 per kilowatt, the study said.

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