November 8, 2013

Policy in Turkey Encourages Renewable Energy Generation

Turkey updated its policy on unlicensed renewable energy production in early October, making it possible for owners of small solar PV systems to sell their surplus to the government. 
The new regulation states that unlicensed systems producing up to 1-megawatt (mw) of energy and plugged into the national grid are eligible for payments of US$0.133 per kilowatt-hour.
The amended law makes the production of renewable energy much more profitable and presents new opportunities for solar energy within the Turkish market. It also shows that the Turkish government is serious about pushing away from mass imports of fossil fuels-which create a critical imbalance in the local economy- and incorporating renewables into its energy mix.
The decision is an example of Turkey implementing new “prosumer” models, said Dr. Aygün Keser, a senior advisor and country representative for Turkey at Apricum and a speaker at the Solar Now Turkey conference, which will be held in Istanbul on 25-27 November 2013.
“In the past, Turkey had a lot of problems to get a strategy for solar PV into its energy mix,” Keser said. He estimated that the there are already 10-15 unlicensed solar PV projects running in Turkey, all of which have the opportunity to take advantage of the new regulation.
He noted that the possibilities for solar energy are very good in Turkey because of its Mediterranean location and high degree of sun radiation. He added that Turkey itself has a growing energy demand that is increasing by about 5 to 6% every year.
“In order to supply their own population with steady electricity Turkey needs to free up this segment and help the investors, the producers, and consumers to invest in this field,” Keser said.
Burak Sefer, general manager for Reengen and also a speaker at Solar Now Turkey, recently completed a 376kw solar rooftop project at Özyeğin University, which is located on the Anatolian side of Istanbul. The large system spans four buildings, consisting of 21kw, 95kw, 135kw, and 125kw modules.
“This project is a good example in Turkey,” Sefer said.
While the campus is expected to use most of the energy itself, any extra energy will be sold on to the national grid.
Sefer said that while Turkey is slowly increasing its focus on renewables some challenges remain. He highlighted that small unlicensed projects are easier to begin than licensed projects. Approval from the government can be gained within about three to six months. A licensed project can take one to two years for approval.
Also, while there is great enthusiasm among Turkish companies for renewable energy projects, most of the materials must be imported from abroad. Cables and galvanized steel can be sourced locally. But solar cells, sockets, and inverters must be bought from abroad for now.
“All the projects that were successful up until now used European or Asian brands,” Sefer said.
Despite this, the Turkish government already offers incentives for the use of locally produced materials. Unlicensed solar projects now have an additional boost with the new policy, he said. The law is expected to encourage the proliferation of such systems.
Keser agreed. “If you don’t invest now in the non-license segment, within the coming two to three months you will really have a lot of problems getting access to the national grid,” he said. “Already there are at least 500 applications on the way for non-licensed generation.”
The new law is expected to contribute to economic growth in Turkey, offer opportunities for investors, and also help companies reduce costs, Keser said.
“This makes a lot of sense for companies. They can be independent, make their own energy, and sell the energy not consumed.”

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