Mustafa Ataseven: “Turkish Wind Industry Must Gain Momentum”
Istanbul – Mustafa Serdar Ataseven, President of the Turkish Wind Energy Association (TÜREB), stated that important steps had been taken in the wind sector. He continued that among these steps, the most prominent are the changes effected in 2011 in the Renewable Energy Act, and the implementation of the tariff system. He asserted that it is going to be possible to reach one of their goals for the year 2023, namely a capacity of 20 thousand MW of wind energy. Ataseven noted that measures should be taken to solve the problems experienced by investors regarding the topic of radar and bureaucratic procedures. He also expressed that in order to eliminate the “suitcase merchants”, state enterprises need to act like private enterprises. Ataseven articulated that investors would be losing time with desk duties in 2012 and that forecasts for investments were in the vicinity of 600 to 800 MW. He announced that the main breakthrough in the sector would be achieved in 2013 and 2014.
Turkey is the biggest wind market in Europe. Mustafa Serdar Ataseven, President of the Turkish Wind Energy Association (TÜREB), asserts that this sector should begin picking up momentum. We discussed with Mr. Ataseven the past, present and future of the sector, as well as the problems experienced by investors, the “suitcase merchants” and the expectations of the market from the state.
The wind never slowed down in 2011
How was the year 2011 with respect to wind energy?
There was a change made in the Renewable Energy Act in the first week of January. It was published in the Official Gazette and became effective. This brought a great vigor to the market with regard to wind energy. There were two main changes. One pertained to the tariff system which we did not possess previously. That means there is now a purchasing price for the wind energy we produce. The second and most important change is the local contribution share. Under these circumstances, considering that we are a country with a considerable foreign debt, this may be a solution. However this should become effective with secondary regulations and rules as soon as possible. Another important development is that the TEİAŞ has begun to process the wind applications which had been waiting since November 1, 2007 and has begun to issue licenses. (TEİAŞ, Türkiye Elektrik İletişim AŞ, translates as TETC: Turkish Electricity Transmission Company)
Aside from this, there were developments to the effect that 500 KW of electricity were produced without license. Regulations were set up for this and it seems that these regulations will come into effect in 2012. Another development was that EPDK (EPDK, Enerji Piyasası Denetleme Kurumu, translates as EMRA: Energy Market Regulatory Authority)announced the outlines of the measurement regulations regarding wind and solar energy. This shows that in the near future, the November 1, 2007 event will be over with and concluded. The measurement regulations for this will be officially published. The acceptance of wind applications will begin anew starting from 2013 on.
Ataseven: It is possible to reach the 20 thousand MW goal
20 thousand MW wind energy has been set as the goal for 2023. It is not an easy goal but is it possible?
A goal of 20 thousand MW wind energy for 2023 doesn’t seem to be an easy goal when you look at it from the perspective of today’s conditions. However if the state, the universities, industry, turbine producers, and investors all contribute to this effort and take measures to this end, it is possible to reach this goal. The Turkish Wind Energy Association is setting up a road map for this purpose. The draft should be ready by the end of February and then declared to the sector in March. After we collect the feedback, we plan to share it with the whole sector. If we finalize this road map by the end of March, we will be able to put forth in a clear manner: who should do what and what should be done by whom to reach the goal of 20 thousand MW.
Ataseven: The radar process, the-day-before-markets and bureaucracy poses difficulty for the investor
Which difficulties do investors face in the construction of wind power stations?
Investors have many problems when they commence the business. The prolonged radar evaluation process is one of the foremost problems that challenge both the people who are already in the business and those newly entering it. We are talking of durations of up to 10 months. That is a long time for an investor. The problems concerning radar must be solved as soon as possible. Actually this is not a problem, it is a process. The process has to be speeded up.
Another one of the important factors is the-day-before-markets. This situation is one of the problems of the wind power plant managements. One day previously you have to make a forecast of the electricity you will be producing the next day. However since the weather forecast systems in our country are not so developed as those in Europe, it is not so easy to make such a forecast. Thus we claim that wind power plants should be exempt from the-day-before-markets for a certain time, say for instance at least 3 or 5 years.
During the construction process and the environmental evaluation of the power plant, committees from 14 different enterprises are taken to the site. These processes are too long. In order for us to attract foreign investors, either the processes should be shortened or they should be handled from one single office.
Ataseven: A distinction must be made between “suitcase merchants” and project developing engineering companies
During the license procuring process, there are middle-men who are called “suitcase merchants”. Will these “suitcase merchants” be eliminated when legal steps are taken? Alternatively, what can be done to eliminate this situation?
Both the Ministry of Energy and EPDK (EMRA: Energy Market Regulatory Authority) are trying to prevent this situation by renewing some of the regulations. To be frank, this is one Turkey’s realities. And it is not present only in the wind sector. However one thing has to be put forth clearly. There is a happening in Europe. There are project developing engineering companies on one hand and investor companies on the other. This distinction has to be made clearly because project developing international companies have begun forming in Turkey. These should not be seen as “suitcase merchants”. Particularly international companies have made investments for serious project developments. They are able to share this with an investor company at a later stage, or to remain as a partner. A line should be drawn between these project developing companies and the “suitcase merchants” companies. A distinction has to be made.
If we view it from a different angle, in order to eliminate such structures, our state enterprises should act more like private enterprises, particularly those state enterprises which render engineering services. The commission that the “suitcase merchants” get should go to the state. And it should return to the people as an infra-structure support. If there is a commission there, it should go to the state. We believe the state should then spend this money to develop the infra-structure of the renewable project.
Ataseven: Support for Research Development is logical however it has to be defended from a commercial aspect
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yıldız has announced that a project is underway to build a turbine of 2.5 MW capacity. What do you think about this project?
Sabancı University and TÜBİTAK (TÜBİTAK translates as The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey; it is a state bureau within the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology) have received support from the Ministry of Energy within the scope of Research and Development. Currently they are producing a 500 KW turbine as a prototype. They will be producing a 2.5 MW turbine in the second stage. There is an effort to nationalize it. This is a very logical project. It is positive thing for it to be receiving support within the Research and Development project scope. However it does need commercial arguments. If you can’t carry a product to the commercial level, it is doomed to remain as a laboratory experiment. What do we mean by commercializing? When we produce this turbine, it has to be at a competitive level with other turbine producers on the market. When we produce this turbine, we have to be able to finance it in the international finance market. This is how Germany, Denmark, USA, and China do it. They sell the turbine along with the financial model. We have to be able to do it this way. State mechanisms which support this production, for example EXIM Bank, have to be formed.
We should go nuclear so that at least we do not become dependent on natural gas
Minister Yıldız drew attention to the need for nuclear energy in his speech at the Productive Energy Forum and Exhibition. Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu, President of TOBB (TOBB is the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges in Turkey) voiced that Turkey is already late for nuclear energy. What would you like to say on this subject?
The Ministry of Energy has work undergoing that is related to the 2023 goal. Here they accept that the wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and solar potentials will all have been realized by 2023. Of course there are certain work periods for these. That is to say they do not continually produce energy as in conventional production stations. To speak in terms of the concept of capacity factor for wind energy, it means energy production throughout 30 -35 % of the year. If you integrate these values with all potential evaluations, even if we use all our resources, we will not be able to meet the consumption needs in 2023, an energy consumption that is foreseen to be twice the present values. Thus we need to produce new resources. That is why nuclear energy has to be set up, why it is planned. As a wind person, I must agree with this opinion. Currently we are producing 54% of our energy from natural gas. If we do not use nuclear energy, we will become more dependent on natural gas. I think that we need to use nuclear energy so that we at least don’t have to become more dependent on natural gas.
Ataseven: The sector will be booming in 2013 and 2014
2011 was quite productive and active. What do you anticipate for 2012?
We expect that by the end of the first quarter of 2012, all wind applications that had been made by November  will have been granted their licenses. This will give a momentum to the wind sector. In general wind investors will be busy with office work and trying to get permissions. We will see the actual boom in 2013 and 2014. We estimate that 600 to 800 MW wind power stations will become active in business in 2012. However we expect that a minimum of 1000 MW wind power stations will become active in 2013 and also at least another 1000 MW in 2014.
Interview: Kağan Konçak, www.alternatifenerji.com
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