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A hundred percent greener outlook for cities in Turkey

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Endowed with renewable resources, such as wind, sun, geothermal and hydro, the country is still relying on coal and other fossil fuels to produce its energy. Forward-looking public policies could make the difference and lead to sustainable and less polluted urban areas in the coming decades
Turkey’s energy production for urban areas could be 100% based on renewables within 30 years if appropriate public policy is implemented.

This is the opinion of Baha Kuban, a senior consultant at Demir Enerji in Istanbul, an engineering firm specialising in energy efficiency solutions and management. Baha has been actively involved in policy issues on renewable energy, particularly solar electricity, and is the founding member of Turkey’s National Photovoltaic Platform.

Energy efficiency is a global challenge and therefore concerns Turkey. Could you describe the situation in the country’s towns and cities in this respect?

A peculiarity of Turkey’s cities is their very high demographic growth rate: between 200 and 250,000 people migrate to Istanbul from the countryside every year. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, which started in the eighties. About 80% of the Turkish population is now living in cities.
City councils are struggling to provide even basic services such as drinking water and waste collection. Energy efficiency in buildings needs a lot of cash and does not rank high on council agendas.
Energy supply is regulated in a specific way in Turkey. Energy assets were privatised in the mid-nineties. Supply was the prerogative of the central government, and only recently has local government been involved in energy production and distribution. However central government remains in charge of energy efficiency policies, regulates the sector and gives incentives to stakeholders in the field.
Most of our energy efficiency laws were drafted and implemented thanks to our candidacy to the European Union. With 90% of its energy coming from coal and natural gas, Turkey is over-reliant on fossil fuels.
Some inroads have been made in wind, but nothing compared to the country’s potential. Turkey is fantastically endowed with renewable energy resources. According to many studies, energy production in Turkey could almost be 100 % based on renewables: wind, solar, geothermal, hydro. This goal could be reached within 30 years, but of course, it depends on government policy.
The use of solar collectors is very widespread in Turkey. The existing local manufacturing industry keeps the prices down. Our installation capacity for solar collectors ranks second in the world, after China.

What are the difficulties and barriers when attempting to transform cities into low energy and zero emissions urban areas?

A huge problem is that city councils are mainly concerned with meeting the basic needs of a growing population. Opportunities do, however, exist. For instance, the urban transformation law enables local government to demolish old and dangerous buildings in cities, and build more energy-efficient districts instead. This is a very useful mechanism for making the current urban building stock more sustainable in terms of energy consumption.
The flipside is the risk of it becoming a source of income for local government and building contractors. This is because they may choose to focus on demolishing buildings in the more affluent districts, and on using public real estate and valuable green belts to build new up-market areas. But overall, the urban transformation plan is a positive move and it has strong backing from the financial sector.

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By Sorina Buzatu


    Drève du Pressoir 38
    B-1190 Brussels


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  • Turkey


renewable resources, energy, energy efficiency, public policies, sustainable development, urban areas, low carbon
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