Mon, 08 Mar 2021

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Turkey plans to increase its solar energy capacity in 2021 and reduce huge energy import bill amid economic woes, experts say.

ISTANBUL, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Following a setback caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Turkey is planning to increase its solar energy capacity in 2021 and reduce the huge energy import bill that the country has to pay amid economic woes, experts said.

"The year 2020 has been a lost year regarding solar energy capacity increase, but we are planning to remedy the lost time this year," Halil Demirdag, chairman of the Turkish Solar Energy Industry Association, told Xinhua.

He indicated that the increase in Turkey's solar energy capacity is expected to reach over 100 percent this year, but this will only bring the country to the period before the pandemic.

"The share of solar power in Turkey's total electricity generation stood at 4 percent last year. In 2021, we expect 1,500 megawatts (MW) capacity to be added and the share of solar in total electricity generation to rise to over 5 percent," he said.

Capacity additions this year are forecast at 1,500 MW compared to 2020 when just 672 MW was added due to disruptions in the global supply chain from the pandemic.

With last year's additions, Turkey's total solar power capacity reached 6,667 MW at the end of 2020, according to industry officials.

Demirdag remarked that China was one of the very few nations that had not seen its solar energy capacity affected by the pandemic.

He also called on Turkish investors and industry stakeholders to make use of Turkey's solar power potential to help the country reduce its energy import bill and contribute more to climate change action.

"Turkey is a real solar paradise with its favorable geographical location, and we have to dig into this huge potential," he noted.

Highly dependent on imports for its natural gas and oil needs, Turkey has seen strong growth in renewable energy capacity to 49,500 MW in the last few years, reaching more than half of the total installed power capacity of 95,000 MW.

A Turkish source close to energy projects told Xinhua that in 2019, Turkey's import energy bill totaled 41.1 billion U.S. dollars, according to data of the Turkish Statistical Institute.

"We want to reduce this bill by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, and we have the potential of doing so with partnerships with other countries," an official said on condition of anonymity.

Turkey's energy imports are a serious strain on the nation's economy, which has suffered turbulences before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as high inflation and unemployment and the widening of the current account deficit.

Turkey's increasing cooperation with China in recent years also focuses on renewable energy, the source said, stressing that China invested heavily in renewable energy.

"China has made huge progress in developing solar projects, and we are cooperating with China, which has a major know-how in this technology," the official added.

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