Turkey’s rapid shift to greener sources of energy has led to a sharp rise in its installed solar power over the last decade, with renewable investments expected to accelerate in the period ahead.
The aim to generate a larger share of power from renewable sources stems from the country’s goal of lowing its hefty energy bill, as it imports almost all of its energy needs from abroad.
Its journey of producing energy from solar power started at just 40 megawatts (MW) back in 2014. It has now reached 7,816 megawatts, according to data compiled from the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry.
Turkey’s multiple support schemes throughout the years saw the installed solar power capacity rise to 249 MW in 2015, before rocketing to 833 MW a year later.
Still, the biggest leap was seen in 2017, when the figure reached 3,421 MW, a 311% year-over-year increase, according to the data.
Some 1,149 MW of installed capacity was added in 2021 alone.
Turkey’s renewable energy capacity is predicted to grow by over 50% through 2026, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The projection in the IEA’s annual Renewable Market Report last month showed the country’s renewable capacity growing by over 26 gigawatts (GW), or 53%,during the 2021-26 period, with solar and wind accounting for 80% of the expansion.
Tolga Şallı, head of the Environmentalist Energy Association, said the increase in the installed solar energy was “enormous,” also stressing that the support provided to the industry was of great importance.
Emphasizing that renewable energy sources were important both in the fight against the climate crisis and in the country’s struggle for energy independence, Şallı said in terms of environmental conditions, “there is no place within the borders of Turkey where we cannot benefit from solar energy.”
“You can benefit from it anywhere, from Antalya in the south to the Black Sea in the north. The fact that these regions can be more cloudy or windy and rainy does not prevent us from taking advantage of this,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA).
“For example, Germany is located in our north.Yet, its installed capacity is quite large.”
The period from 2022 onward carries even greater importance, said Şallı, pointing particularly to the Paris climate agreement, which Turkey ratified in October last year.
It became the last country in the G-20 group of major economies to ratify the accord after demanding for years that it must first be reclassified as a developing country, which would entitle it to funds and technological help.
“In the fight against the climate crisis, our Parliament has ratified the Paris climate agreement. Renewable energy investments have to be made within the scope of the action plans to be created in this direction and the sustainable climate action plans of the municipalities,” he noted.
Given that the legislation has also changed and the biggest input of the investor is the cost of electricity, Şallı said they see solar energy investments increasing rapidly in the coming period.