In Turkey: Building a Market for Energy Efficiency

January 23, 2013

Above the town of Cesme, Turkey, on the hills above the Aegean Sea, a west wind blows steadily 10 months of the year. It turns dozens of giant windmills, which in turn send power to Turkey's national electricity grid. 12 of them produce enough energy for a quarter of a million households a year.

And Turkey is, relatively speaking, windy, especially along the Marmara and Aegean coasts.

"Looking at a wind map," says Mehmet Toker, an engineer at the Bilgin Energy wind farm, "I see three sides of Turkey are surrounded by seas, so this means a steady wind stream for the country's energy."

Wind power provides about two percent of Turkey's energy. But thanks to government and international incentives and subsidies for sustainable power, it is expanding quickly. And private companies are moving into the business, spurred by low interest loans and a push from the Turkish government. Turkey produces few fossil fuels, aside from lignite. It relies heavily on imported natural gas. But it is rich in wind, water, and sun—all renewable, non-greenhouse gas producing sources of power.

"We're sure there's a growing market for wind power," explains Vadi Cakmak, the chief technician for Bilgin Energy, as he looks toward the Aegean. "Here, there are plans for 15 more wind parks, so the numbers will increase, even as you move away from the coasts and to the heart of the country."

A Big Investment

The 85-meter, 350-ton turbines cost about $1.3 million dollars each. But with support from the World Bank and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), Turkey is building up its sustainable energy production and energy efficiency. The CTF has pledged $271 million dollars to urge Turkey's market toward advanced renewables and energy savings.

Ercan Sayari manages investments for Nuh, a large Turkish company. He says that without favorable loans, and the push from the CTF, his company could not afford to invest in sustainable power.

" If we didn't have the chance to find this loan, I wouldn't be doing this now - maybe not this year, maybe ten years later, when I have enough funds. Today, I found this fund and I did this job properly and otherwise I couldn't have done it.  "
Ercam Sayari, Investment Manager, Nuh Company (Turkey)

Ercan Sayari

Investment Manager, Nuh Company, Turkey

About 60 percent of Turkey's power currently comes from fossil fuels and 60 percent of the country's production relies on imported energy. That must change, says Orhan Beşkök, the Secretary General of TSKB Bank.

"The answer to Turkey's growing power and energy needs lies not only in increasing capacity but also in more efficient use of energy," he explains. "There is substantial room for energy efficient investment."

And Turkey is moving toward creating a market for energy efficient investment, slowly and steadily building a demand for sustainable energy and a supply of investment money to pay for it.