Why don’t we like solar energy?

Why don’t we like solar energy?


Tunç Korun is the second generation boss of Form Group (Form Şirketler Grubu), which has specialized in productive use of energy since 1965.

His group created a cooling system for hotels using seawater. He also focuses on heating homes using a system installed underground and, more recently, producing solar powered electricity.

Korun has dedicated much of his energy to produce his own electricity by installing solar panels of 2 kwh to the roof of his own house. He is very right to do so in a country like Turkey where there is plenty of sunshine. However, the data he submits demonstrates how far behind Turkey is in this field.

Germany, which does not even have one tenth of our sun, is the world leader in solar energy, having installed an 18,000 megawatt capacity. The runners-up include Spain, Japan, the U.S., Italy, China and France. As of the end of 2010, installed solar energy capacity in the world has reached 35,730 megawatts.

According to International Energy Agency calculations, by 2020, solar energy capacity will be up to 390,000 megawatts.

Looking at Turkey we see that installed power capacity is only 3 megawatts.

In short, we have seriously missed a free energy source that nature has awarded us with only “one in 10,000” of the world’s installed power.

In a conversation with Korun two and a half years ago, he said that the newly appointed Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız was enthusiastic about “renewable energy including solar power.”

Today, Korun is pessimistic about the policy the energy minister has adopted. “Yıldız has pushed aside renewable energy. One or two companies like us that defend solar energy were full of hope for two years but not now. We were saying that Turkey was dependent on foreign natural gas and now, dependency on nuclear energy is increasing. The resources we have in hand are being ignored,” he said.

Compared to two years ago, the cost of producing electricity from the sun has decreased to 2,000 euros per kwh from 5,000 euros. This is good news.

The bad news is the incentive payments the state grants for electricity production from the sun. According to Korun, this is a “negative incentive” because the $0.13 incentive per kwh the state has declared past January is below the present grid price. Consequently, it is obvious Ankara has a dim view on solar energy.

At a time when governments focus more on “low carbon” economies and opt for all kinds of renewable energy, Turkey can take small steps forward only with the efforts of the private sector.

The photovoltaic panel system that produces electricity from the sun developed by the Form Group has been installed in some buildings of major companies such as Arçelik, Migros, Özdilek, Toyota and Perfetti. Demand for the photovoltaic panel system is gradually increasing, Korun said, and companies favor this system because of prestige of obtaining a “green building” certificate.

I have not quite heard that public buildings have had solar energy systems installed despite the fact that they should be the ones pioneering in this field.

I wonder if Turkey’s Housing and Development Administration ever considers solar energy when it launches major projects within the context of “urban transformation” due to the risk of earthquakes.