Ember Russia has become Turkey's largest coal supplier

Ember: Russia has become Turkey’s largest coal supplier

Coal import bill for electricity generation doubles

According to the analysis published today by the international think tank Ember, Turkey’s coal imports for electricity generation doubled in 2022 to reach $5.3 billion. In the year in which the highest coal import amount of all time was reached, Russia overtook Colombia to become Turkey’s largest coal supplier.

The prominent findings of the research are as follows:

Increasing dependence on Russia in energy

Turkey supplied nearly half of its coal imports from Russia in 2022, and Russia’s share was 26% in 2021. Turkey’s dependence on Russia is not only high in coal, but also in other energy resources such as natural gas and oil, Russia’s share is between 40-45%. On the other hand, the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project belongs to the Russian state.

Ember Russia has become Turkey's largest coal supplier

Most of the electricity production from coal originates from imported coal.

Electricity generation from imported coal in Turkey is 25% higher than that of domestic coal, and since 2010, there has been an increase in electricity generation from coal, driven by imported coal. So much so that the share of imported coal in electricity generation, which was 7% in 2010, has reached 20% in 2022.

Ember Russia has become Turkey's largest coal supplier

In the wind we are ahead of Italy and France, in the sun we are far below potential

Although there was a limited increase of approximately 2.4 GW in total wind and solar energy capacity in Turkey in 2022, the share of wind and sun in electricity generation continued to increase, reaching 15.5% due to the decrease in electricity demand. In 2021, this rate was 13.5%.

Although Turkey is ahead of countries such as France (8%) and Italy (7%), with approximately 11% of wind’s share in electricity generation, it remains below its potential in solar energy. The share of the sun in electricity production, with 4.7%, is close to countries such as Poland (4.5%) and Ukraine (4%) that receive much less sunshine compared to Turkey. However, the new energy plan of the Ministry of Energy includes high targets in solar capacity; To meet these targets, solar capacity will need to triple each year.

Ember Russia has become Turkey's largest coal supplier

Electricity generation from natural gas is on the decline

In 2022, electricity generation from natural gas in Turkey decreased by 40 TWh and decreased by 35% compared to the previous year. Behind the decline in natural gas are the increased hydropower generation (+10 TWh) and the increase in coal power generation (+10 TWh) after the drought in 2021. The 9 TWh decrease in electricity demand also played a role in the decrease in natural gas. Monthly electricity demand in Turkey has been decreasing since the second half of the year.

Hydroelectric power stations can act as batteries

The role of hydroelectric power plants came to the fore in the crisis that started with the natural gas cut from Iran in January 2022. This interruption also caused a decrease in the flow to the natural gas power plants. In order to compensate for the natural gas-based electricity production, which fell by half in the first three days of the crisis, hydroelectric power plants doubled the production and acted as batteries. This prevented further power outages. Especially hydroelectric power plants with large dams can play an important role in Turkey’s energy transformation by compensating for other energy sources due to their flexibility to increase or decrease production rapidly.

Ember Regional Leader Ufuk Alparslan: “Contrary to popular belief, most of the electricity generation from coal in Turkey is made with imported coal, not domestic coal. This dependence on imported coal caused record coal imports in 2022. In order to stop this, Turkey needs to turn to clean energy sources, especially the sun, which it does not use its potential enough.”

Ember Russia has become Turkey's largest coal supplier
Ember Regional Leader Ufuk Alparsla

Click here to access the full report.


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