French company cancels energy project in Turkey after local, global protests

French company cancels energy project in Turkey after local, global protests

Merve Erdil - ISTANBUL
French company cancels energy project in Turkey after local, global protests France’s state-run Engie has canceled its thermal power plant project in the southern Turkish district of İskenderun after protests both from local and global environmentalists. 

Engie has announced the halting of the project, along with many of its other power plant projects across the world, after several protests were staged against the company, which will be the main sponsor of the U.N. Climate Summit in November. 

“Engie will not be part of any new coal projects across the world. This is a board decision. This also covers our project in Turkey. We’ll grow in renewable energy in Turkey,” said the company representatives in Turkey. 

Sector experts say all non-renewable energy projects could be reacted against harshly in southern Turkey as the potential for renewable energy is very high there. 

Environmental lobby groups urged French President Francois Hollande to force state-owned utility Engie to stop investing in coal projects in Turkey in a statement at the beginning of October, Reuters reported.  

Engie, in partnership with the Turkish company Mimag-Sanko, had planned to build the Ada Yumurtalık 1,320-megawatt coal plant in İskenderun, Hatay province.

Letter to Hollande 

Around 35 environmental groups, including WWF France, Greenpeace Turkey and Climate Action Network Europe, said the project threatens citrus fruit production in the area and new coal plants put the livelihoods of 500,000 people at risk.

“We strongly urge you to act to cancel Engie’s investment plans in the Ada coal power plant project in İskenderun Bay, and to push Engie commit to end all its coal investments and activities,” they said in a letter to the French president, as quoted by Reuters. 

The groups also made protests both in İskenderun and Paris, where the Climate Summit is due to be held. 
A local group had also said it filed a case for the termination of over 30 thermal power plant licenses in the region, which will produce 10,000 megawatts of electricity. 

“There is a scary oversupply of thermal power plants in the region. In addition to the existing three big thermal power plants, the İskenderun Iron and Steel Plant also uses coal … But this has had negative effects on the region’s fisheries sector and agricultural production,” said Turkey-based Environment and Consumer Protection Association head Sadun Bölükbaşı. 

He noted that the solar power capacity is very high in the region, almost doubling Germany’s capacity even in the darkest winter days, adding that the group has tried to address this potential through a number of activities.