New $5 billion thermal power plant on the way in Turkey

New $5 billion thermal power plant on the way in Turkey

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
New $5 billion thermal power plant on the way in Turkey

Around 950 million tons of lignite reserves have been discovered in the western province of Afyon, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız says. AA photo

Turkey plans to establish a 3,500-megawatt (MW) thermal power plant with a $5 billion investment in the western province of Afyon, which possesses 950 million tons of lignite, the energy minister said yesterday.

Taner Yıldız said in a written statement that the exploration by the Mineral Research and Exploration (MTA) in the Dinar district of Afyon, which has been continuing for five years, had now been completed and that they had discovered lignite reserves in the area totaling around 950 million tons. 

“We aim to build a thermal power plant, worth $5 billion, that will have 3,500 MW of power. It means employment for 6,000 or 7,000 in the plant’s construction and the mining field,” he said. 

Yıldız recalled that Turkey’s goal was to generate one-third of its electricity via coal by 2023. “We aim to raise the local coal-fired power plant’s capacity to 30,000 MW in the next 10 years,” adding that coal power plants would be built using resources from the Turkish Coal Enterprises’ (TKİ) coal mining fields in Afşin-Elbistan, Karapinar-Konya, Dinar-Afyon and Alpu-Eskişehir.

Yıldız also said a coal field in the Karlıova district of Bitlis had been transferred to the private sector under the condition that a coal power plant be constructed. “The private sector will build a thermal power plant that will have 240 MW of power and which will be worth $700 million.”

On average 1 MW of power can supply electricity to as many as 300 U.S. households per year. According to TÜİK figures, the average person in Turkey consumes 540 kW of electricity in one year.

Coal to replace natural gas imports

The minister said they aimed to end Turkey’s dependence on $12 billion worth of natural gas imports with power plants fired by domestic coal. Turkey produces around half of its electricity from natural gas, a source for which it is largely dependent on Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan. 

Turkey has recently been encouraging the construction of coal-burning plants in an effort to break its large dependence on natural gas. Yıldız said the investment in high-calorie local coal would be profitable for both Afyon and Turkey. The scope of state incentives for coal-mining investments was expanded with a decision by the Cabinet declared on May 31. The recent incentive system, which 
came into force on June 20, 2012, had allocated incentives to only low-calorie coal (low C class), but the recent decision will allow for incentives to be given also to high-calorie coal. 

Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan had said the new regulation would attract new investors to the sector.

However, Yıldız said they had also made investments worth $1.2 billion in the last 10 years for clean coal technologies and the environment, adding that they would invest more than $1 billion in advance.