Locals from Elazığ's Çemişgezek district hold a protest against the construction of a hydroelectric plant. AA Photo
A new parliamentary report made public Aug. 7 has stated that controversial hydroelectric plants (HES) constitute more than 90 percent of Turkey’s renewable energy production but expressed worries about their damaging effects.
The report urged the government not only to increase the proportion of renewables used for the production of energy, but also diversify its clean energy sources. But it also questioned whether HES plants can be considered a sustainable energy source due to the damage they cause to the environment and cultural artifacts.
“In some cases, the environmental and socioeconomic impacts that surface during the construction and operation of the hydroelectric plants surpass the benefits of energy production. Thus, HES [plants] cannot always be considered a sustainable energy source,” the report said.
The report also criticized the construction of plants that were rushed, which ended up causing permanent damage as rubble was frequently buried in stream beds. It called for such actions to be monitored during the construction process and for companies to be punished appropriately according to the law.
The report came as the Cabinet issued a new decision on Aug. 8 for the expropriation of several properties for the construction of energy facilities, including two hydroelectric and two wind plants.
Expropriation decisions are often adopted by the Cabinet in order to accelerate the construction process, and even though they are challenged by the local courts, they typically fail to prevent the start of construction process, particularly in inhabited areas.Numbers of HES to sour in four years
The current HES capacity is around 22,000 MW, the report said, adding that the government would need to build new plants that will be able to generate 10,000 MW of additional hydroelectric power in four years.
Turkey currently uses 33 percent of its hydroelectric power potential of 216 billion kilowatts per hour. To maximize its potential, the country will need to construct new plants that can generate 3,000 MW every year for 10 years, at a cost of around $6 billion.
Assessment should be improved
The report also calls for an improvement on environmental impact assessment reports (ÇED), urging experts to consider the potential environmental damage several plants built on one stream or in one basin could cause.
“Particularly the quantity of water that will flow in rivers is not calculated by considering the entire basin,” the report said.
The report also slammed the power given to companies who will be able to determine the amount of water that will be allowed to flow in the rivers following the construction of the plants.
The planned construction of hundreds of HES projects across Turkey is causing anger among locals communities, who have mobilized to preserve their ecosystem and local economy. As a result, a forum will be organized in the village of Boğazkere in the southern province of Mersin on Aug. 16 to 17 by local activists, which will include the participation of legal experts who will plan concerted actions against the projects.