Turkey turns to coal and nuclear power

20 February 2012

Much of Europe may be moving towards cleaner power but in Turkey the story is somewhat different. EUAS, the country’s state-owned electricity company, was due in early February to sign a memorandum of understanding with two South Korean groups on a USD 2 billion coal fired power plant. It is also moving ahead with plans for 2 nuclear plants. That contrasts strongly with European figures – 71% of new power generating capacity in the European Union last year came from renewable energy sources.

Mr Taner Yildiz, Turkey’s energy minister, said recently that the government would provide incentives for coal based projects and impose limits on natural gas projects. This will help it meet its aim of reducing by the year 2023 the percentage of electricity generated by gas from 50% to 30%. For economic and diplomatic reasons, Ankara is keen to cut its dependence on gas imports from Russia and Iran and to boost its hitherto insufficient domestic energy production. About 75% of the country’s energy comes from abroad.

But Turkey has had price disputes with both Russia and Iran, its two biggest gas suppliers, considerations that are particularly important fo a country that has a current account deficit of USD 77 billion and an energy import bill of more than USD 40 billion.

Having broken off one contract last year with Russia, by far Turkey’s biggest gas supplier, Ankara has now announced that it is taking Iran to arbitration over the prices it charges for gas.

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