In Turkey: Power from the Earth

January 23, 2013

About 60 percent of Turkey's power comes from fossil fuels and 60 percent of the country's production relies on imported energy. Turkish officials and business leaders argue that Turkey needs a steady, domestic source of energy.

So, with support from the World Bank and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), the Turkish government is working to build a firm foundation for sustainable energy across the country. The Turkish Treasury's Elvan Ongun is one of the government officials working on clean technology. "I believe we have been achieving transformational change in Turkey and awareness has increased tremendously since we started on the first CTF project," Ongun says.

1.5 Kilometers Underground

In Aydin, the Doras use the earth to generate power. Dora I and Dora II are geothermal plants, named after their owner's 12-year-old granddaughter. Doras I and II generate enough energy for 20,000 households every day. Dora's power comes from boiling hot water buried a kilometer and a half underground, which creates high pressure gas to power turbines and send energy to Turkey's grid.

Muharrem Balat, a Turkish entrepreneur, owns the Doras. He's currently building Dora III, which is bigger than its predecessors, for about $77 million. Geothermal currently produces .03 percent of Turkey's energy, but he sees the plants as an important heritage for his granddaughter, and an important part of Turkey's energy security.

"Geothermal is a very important resource that Turkish businesses are investing in, have grappled with," Balat, the president of MB Holding, says. "It is important because geothermal will help Turkey be less reliant on foreign energy."

The Doras are the first such plants in Turkey, but, experts say, the country has the potential to become the world's biggest producer of geothermal energy. Already, the two operating Doras save over 70,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

"The importance of renewable energy in Turkey's national energy policy can't be overstated," says Murat Haluk Tufekcioglu, the General Manager at the Doras. "We get most of our energy from foreign markets. Renewable means a lot for Turkey in terms of energy supply security."

Warm Enough for Tomatoes

The Doras, and the electricity they produce, have already changed lives. This greenhouse is heated by power from the plants two kilometers away. Almost 30 percent of the cost of a typical greenhouse is heat—the tomatoes are, in essence, simply a byproduct. But for the 40 or so local women who work here, they are status, spending money, and freedom.

" I am so happy the greenhouse opened, I'm extremely happy. My life has changed 100 percent. I can buy what I want and when I want it. I run to work!" "
Yasemin Yazgan, Aydin

Yasemin Yazgan

Greenhouse worker, Aydin

"I am so happy the greenhouse opened, I'm extremely happy," Yasemin Yazgan exclaims with a huge smile on her face. "My life has changed 100 percent; I can buy what I want and when I want it. I run to work!"

Her co-worker, Zeliha Kabacalioglu, agrees. "There's a beauty in earning your own money and, if you like, spending it on your kids." She bought her daughter a laptop with her earnings.