For the first time, wind turbines generate more electricity than fossil fuels.

Turkey’s energy sector hit an important milestone this week after wind power emerged as the single largest contributor to the overall electricity mix, leaping ahead of fossil fuels - even if it was just for a day. 

On November 28, the share of wind power in the electricity output was recorded at 22.6 percent, more than what the gas-fired power plants produced, according to the Turkish Electricity Transmission Corporation (TETC). 

Wind turbines spanned across the Aegean region generated 178,964 megawatt-hours (MWh) of power out of the total 791,794 MWh. 

This was the second time within a month that wind power’s share in total output surged. On November 10, wind turbines generated 20 percent of overall electricity. 

The rise in wind power output comes at a time when intense winds have swept across parts of the country. 

By Wednesday (December 1), wind power’s share had receded to the usual range of 8 percent

Put together, gas and coal continue to be the primary fuel sources to generate electricity but a gradual shift towards renewables, which includes hydropower,  marks Ankara’s seriousness to meet the goal of curbing the use of fossil fuels. 

Turkey has ramped up installed capacity of renewable sources of power in recent years as it endeavours to cut reliance on import petroleum products. 

Gas imports, much of which is used to generate electricity, have been a strain on foreign exchange reserves. 

Wind power like other renewable sources such as hydro and solar depend on the whims of nature and cannot be relied upon for uninterrupted power supply. 

But concerns over greenhouse gas emissions have intensified the need to promote clean sources of energy in both the developed and developing economies. 

Turkey’s parliament ratified the Paris Agreement in October, officially joining a growing global community that wants to limit CO2 emissions in the foreseeable future. 

Over the years, Ankara has introduced financial incentives in the shape of better tariffs to promote wind power, which now has an installed capacity of over 10,000 MW, increasing tenfold within a decade. 

That’s roughly 10 percent of the 100,000 MW of the total installed capacity, which includes power plants that run on gas and coal. 

There are 3,868 wind turbines operating in 272 wind farms. 

Last year Turkey saw new investments of more than $1.6 billion in the wind power sector, making it among the top five countries in Europe with such a high level of activity, WindEurope, an organisation that promotes the use of renewable energy, said in a report

Natural gas continues to play an important role in Turkey's energy mix.
Natural gas continues to play an important role in Turkey's energy mix. (AP)

Turkey has also been able to attract leading wind turbine manufacturers such as TPI Composites, which produces specialised material for the turbine blades at its plants in Izmir, says WindEurope. 

Energy dependence 

Share of renewables in the energy mix is increasing at a time when Ankara has intensified efforts to cut reliance on imports. 

Last year, Turkey found 320 billion cubic metres of gas reserves in the Black Sea. Production from the offshore field is expected to start in 2023. 

In 2019, Turkey spent $41 billion on energy imports. The payments it makes to buy gas from other countries such as Russia and Azerbaijan have been a drag on its currency for years. 

Turkey consumes around 45 BCM of gas a year, down from 50-55 BCM  just a few years ago as some power production has switched to renewable sources. 

For decades, Turkey depended on energy imports as there was a general belief among policymakers and the private sector that the geology of the country was not feasible for hydrocarbon reserves. 

But successive discoveries made by regional countries such as Israel coupled with Turkey’s exclusion from the Eastern Mediterranean energy scene pushed Ankara to expedite its own efforts. 

In 2017, as per a new policy, Turkey bought seismic and drilling ships to kickstart exploration in its territorial waters. 

Source: TRT World