Difficulties bringing power to the people

Difficulties bringing power to the people

Rising domestic demand and ambitious international plans pose plenty of questions on energy.



Energy consumption in Turkey is forecast to more than double over the next decade, putting its generating capacity under severe strain. Currently, natural gas and coal generate roughly half of the country’s electricity, oil predominates as an energy source, and hydropower holds out the prospect of major development. 

Legislation increasingly promotes renewable energy and energy efficiency, but heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels – largely from Russia and Iran – are seen as a serious challenge in the short and longer term. A deal has recently been struck with Russia to build the country’s first nuclear plant, and South Korea is in talks to build a second plant.

Turkey won compliments from the European Commission last year for reforms that are opening up its electricity market, privatising state assets, and relating prices more realistically to costs. But for natural gas, for which the infrastructure now covers 80% of the country, the market is still judged as inefficient.

Meanwhile, Turkey is seeking to become a regional energy transit hub between Russia, the Caspian Sea region, the Middle East and Europe, and its role in oil transit is growing, with increased pipeline infrastructure vying with tanker traffic through the Bosporus. So while Turkey’s prospects of becoming a member of the EU remain distant, the country is a valuable partner for the EU in the energy field.

Nabucco project

Turkey has been one of the driving forces behind the Nabucco pipeline project, which should start transporting gas from the Caspian region and Iraq into central Europe in 2014. The pipeline, which runs across Turkish territory for nearly 2,000 kilometres of its total 3,300km length, is a crucial project for Turkey. It will bring security of supply, and help to realise its regional ambitions.

The project is also in a crucial phase. Christian Dolezal, head of communications for Nabucco, insists that plans are on track, and construction can start in 2011 – if gas traders make commitments to use the pipeline. Asked whether firm deals had been struck with supplier countries to deliver the gas that is supposed to flow through Nabucco, Dolezal said that under EU energy-market rules, Nabucco itself is a transit operation and is not allowed to buy gas.

But he said that two of the Nabucco consortium’s six members, Austria’s OMV and Hungary’s MOL, have acquired stakes in gas fields in Iraq and Azerbaijan. The combined volume of gas from these deals would supply nearly all of the predicted 31 billion cubic metres that Nabucco is expected to transport a year.

Simon Taylor 

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