Renewable energy in the middle of the new PM debates

Renewable energy in the middle of the new PM debates

Global climate change is an issue that cannot wait. Including Turkey, all states accept that because of the extreme amounts of carbon released into the atmosphere, the climate is changing and our world is warming. 

As for the carbon that our earth has emitted and saved before, thus preventing it from roaming in the atmosphere, we are consuming it and continuously releasing it into the atmosphere because of our increasing energy needs. We should find a way to slow this down.

The way to this is to opt for renewable resources such as wind, sun, geothermal and water instead of using fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas) that would mean releasing the carbon that nature has saved back into the atmosphere. (As a matter of fact, nuclear energy is an energy production method that has zero carbon footprints but because of the issue of nuclear waste and the safety of nuclear power plants, the world is slowly giving up on nuclear energy.) 

A very interesting event occurred in Germany on May 8 in terms of the energy market and renewable energy. At noon, the energy obtained from renewable sources, particularly wind, was so high that energy production in Germany exceeded energy consumption, and electricity prices fell to negative values, even if this was just for only a couple of hours. 

Yes, 55 of the 63 gigawatts of energy consumed in Germany at midday came from renewable resources such as wind, sun and hydroelectric. Because of the prices falling below zero, the question now is paying commercial electric consumers money to consume.

Investments on renewable energy resources, especially wind and solar, are accelerating. It is always Germany and Denmark cited as examples on this matter but China realizes 40 percent of all the investments in the world in renewable energy. The wind and solar production capacity in the United States is bigger than Germany but it has a low share in the total production of the country. So, it is not a political choice to invest in wind and solar energy; every country does this. 

Share of fossil energy

What about Turkey? 

While we were playing the lottery of who will be the prime minister last week, energy prices in Germany fell below zero due to the wind and the sun. 

We, on the other hand, if we include our hydroelectric power plants, defined 40 percent of our installed capacity as of the end of 2013 as renewable. For the 40 percent of this installed power, only 29 percent of the electricity we consumed was from renewable resources in 2013 because we operated hydroelectric plants less that year. Other renewable resources including wind and sun constitute 5 percent of the installed power, and it provided 4 percent of the electricity consumed that year. 

According to the Energy Ministry’s data, our fossil fuel-burning power plants, which constitute 60 percent of our installed capacity, provided 71 percent of the electricity we consumed in 2013. 

But our country has a “Renewable Energy Strategy.” According to this, in 2023, our total installed capacity will be 125,000 megawatts, of which 27,000 megawatts, or 22 percent, will come from the wind and the sun. Fossil resources will again make up 51 percent. 

As a matter of fact, Turkey could act much faster and target 35 percent instead of 22 percent; it could shrink fossil fuel production to 40 percent. This is a matter of political choice and unfortunately, Turkey has not opted for it. 

Germany’s option that is cited as an example today to the entire world was selected in 2000 during the Social Democrat-Green coalition, but the conservative-liberal coalition of Angela Merkel following this government carried this option to a much further point. Finally, in Germany, it was decided that nuclear power plants would totally be shut down by 2022.

Turkey could choose to shut down natural gas plants first and then gradually eliminate power plants that produce electricity with imported coal in the long term, or lower the share of these power plants in the total system to below 40 percent in the medium term. 

Do not forget that any decision made will not only have an impact in the future of our country but also in the future of our world.