Ministry insists on coal energy

Ministry insists on coal energy

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Ministry insists on coal energy

A coal miner poses for a photo during his rest time. Turkey needs more coal power to cut dependency on natural gas, according to the energy minister. AA photo

Turkey wants to make coal one of the main pillars of the country’s diversified energy resource structure, which is now dependent on natural gas, predominantly originating in Russia, to produce more than half of its electricity.

The share of coal in overall energy sources will be at least 30 percent as part of the country’s goals for the centennial of modern Turkey in 2023, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said yesterday, as he participated in a signing ceremony for a 450-megawatt coal-burning power plant in the western province of Manisa, according to the Anatolia news agency. The plant will be built on a lignite field in Manisa’s Soma district.

“We will grant the coal reserves to private sector [firms] and tell them that the reserve will be theirs if they are serious investors,” he said, adding that the rights granted to a firm to exploit a coal field to produce electricity can be revoked by the government if that firm fails to fulfill its related obligations. This model is the least costly for the private sector, Yıldız said, because the investor does not make any payments to the government during the investment period. Instead the company gives a certain share of its production to the government when it begins to produce electricity.

Cutting gas demand

“We will put domestic resources to use and reduce our natural gas imports … further thanks to projects like this one,” Yıldız said. The pace of coal consumption exceeded that of natural gas and oil worldwide in 2011, he said.

Coal has become part of the government’s grand plan to achieve energy diversification, together with Turkey’s first nuclear power plant -- currently under construction -- and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Late in June, Teyo Yatırım, a Turkish investment firm, and Chinese partner Weiqu Energy Investment announced plans to construct a lignite coal power plant with a capacity of 600 megawatts in the southern province of Adana’s Tufanbeyli coalfield.

“Turkey will put all of its coal resources to use by 2023, because [the government] wants to keep the share of coal in the electricity consumption and energy structure at a minimum level of 30 percent. We will have completed $25 billion worth of coal-related tenders by 2023. We began this process in Adana’s Tufanbeyli. Today we inked a deal for the Soma lignite field. Next month we will be in [the western province of] Bursa, and then we will open a tender for the Kütahya-Tunçbilek coalfield,” Yıldız said. Kick-starting the use of these resources is a priority in the government’s energy policy and strategy, he said.

An estimated $1 billion will be invested in the plant, to be built by the Kolin Group on a reserve of nearly 153 million tons of coal, over the six-year investment period. The period of the contract is 30 years.

Call for investments

Large international companies are also offering to take part in private-sector projects in the sector including those at Afşin-Elbistan and Konya-Karapınar, together with the Electricity Generation Company (EÜAŞ), Yıldız said, but EÜAŞ will hold only small shares in these ventures in order to support private-sector investors.