01 Temmuz 2013

Energy or Turkey: Which one will be consumed first?

Özgür Gürbüz-Perspectives/July 2013 

For an ecologist, Turkey’s growth strategy shows some very alarming numbers. Producers looking for markets will be pleased with an economic mobility fed by consumption and Turkey’s domestic demand, but those who see the growth in Turkey in a positive light are ignoring the fact that in Turkey, audits and legal processes go unmanaged, sustainable development is given lip service but never acted upon, individuals’ ideas and suggestions fall on deaf ears, and social costs go unheeded. There are fresh offerings to the god of growth every day: rivers, forests, clean air, and human beings. Workers are killed at construction sites, rivers are blocked by dams, shorelines and forests are distorted by construction. Ecologists and supporters of market-focus growth might not be of the same mind most of the time, but both groups converge on one crucial point: Are there enough sources of energy to support Turkey’s economic growth?  Or, as posed by an environmentalist: Will the effects of this growth impact natural assets at an acceptable level or not?  In order to answer this question, it is important first to look at Turkey’s current energy situation, and then to look at the estimated demands in growth and energy

Dependence on external energy sources
Turkey imports over 70% of its energy.*1 One of the economic targets of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, or AKP) when they came into power was a major increase in growth. But the AKP also wants to lessen Turkey’s dependency on external sources for its domestic energy needs. The AKP’s desired increase in economic growth has only been partially successful. In 2002 when they came to power, Turkey depended on foreign sources for 69% of domestic energy needs; by 2010, this rate had increased to 73%. Turkey is dependent on foreign sources for 98% of its natural gas and 92% of its petrol. New domestic explorations are underway to make Turkey less dependent on foreign petrol sources, but there hasn’t been any noteworthy activity to manage domestic demand. On the contrary, policies supporting the construction of new highways, bridges, and private vehicle ownership only promote petrol consumption. Turkey is decreasing its use of natural gas in generating power and promoting the use of imported coal and nuclear energy over imported natural gas. But the use of natural gas in private households is widespread, and inadequate insulation in newly constructed housing only serves to fuel the demand. In 2012, Turkey imported a record high of 43 billion m³ of natural gas, up from 17 billion m³ in 2002. Even Deloitte’s modest estimate indicated that by 2017 Turkey will import 50 to 60 billion m³ of natural gas per year.*2
Reducing dependence on imported resources besides natural gas is essential, especially reducing the state’s reliance on imported coal. In Turkey, 44% of domestic lignite pits are already being used to generate power.*3 The Ministry is planning to harness the entire potential of domestic coal to power the economy by 2023.*4 The ironic fact of the matter, however, is that according to the Electricity Energy Market and Supply Security Strategy Paper published in 2009, many natural resources –not just coal– will be entirely consumed by the year 2023. Nevertheless, the Paper outlines the following targets: 

• Full use of hydroelectric potential, technically and economically, for generating electricity by 2023.
• Increase of wind power installed capacity to 20,000 megawatts by 2023.
• Maximized use of Turkey’s 600-megawatt geothermal electricity generation potential.
• All of which will result in the reduction of the ratio of natural gas used in the total generation of power to 30%. (As of April 2012, natural gas comprised 47.1% of total power generation.*5)

This strategic paper does not mention any specific targets for solar energy or energy efficiency - both of which would have been important in decreasing dependence on imported energy- and coal, another imported resource, is given the green light. The same government that plans to counteract its dependency on imported energy by constructing a hydroelectric plant on every river in the country also approves of imported coal; this ‘‘strategic’’ paper might not be so strategic after all. The paper is also unable to answer the pressing question of how Turkey will be able to shift to fully imported energy after the year 2023 when all of its domestic resources have been consumed. If over the next decade the increasing demand for energy does not slow, and if Turkey has indeed consumed all its domestic resources by utilizing the full potential of its domestic coal and hydroelectric energy sources by 2023 as planned, then it seems likely that Turkey is headed for an energy gap. As it is, the government is adamant that the demand for energy and growth will not slow.

The Target: To consume all domestic resources in the next ten years
Turkey’s primary energy demand is predicted to increase by 90% and reach 218 billion TOE (tons of oil equivalent) by 2023, up from around 115 million TOE in 2011. In 2011, plans had the share of natural gas in primary energy being reduced from 32% to 23%; coal, at a 31% share of primary energy, is set to increase to 37%. According to the Ministry, in 2023 the percentage of nuclear energy will rise to a 4% share of primary energy, up from zero. Interestingly, hydroelectric (currently 4%) and other renewable energy resources (currently 6%) are not set to change at all, as is the case with petrol (2011: 27%; 2023, projected: 26%.)  Even if this paper’s targets are met and all the hydroelectric potential is tapped, it will not effect a proportional change because overall demand will have doubled. Obviously, the ‘‘strategic plan’’ is not interested in any radical moves towards sustainability in Turkey. By 2023, a full 90% of Turkey’s primary energy demands will be generated by non-renewable resources: coal, oil, and nuclear. This figure includes the Ministry of Energy’s planned use of half of the nation’s wind energy potential (48,000 megawatts*6) and the energy generated by the hydroelectric plants constructed on almost every river in Turkey. The government’s own data suggests that Turkey’s economic growth cannot be sustained by domestic resources alone; almost all the ‘‘domestic resources approved by the government’’ will be consumed within ten years.

Leaving aside environmental problems that will be caused by the combustion of coal, oil, and nuclear energy for the moment, the strategic plan doesn’t even provide any notable progress in making Turkey less dependent on foreign energy sources. Almost all of the nuclear energy, oil, and natural gas that will form 53% of 2023’s primary energy generation will have to be imported. It is also important to note that the nuclear fuel providers and operators of the planned nuclear plants will be foreign companies. In addition, not all of the coal used in coal’s 37% share of total generation will be domestic. In 2011, 10% of electric energy generated by coal-burning power plants was generated with imported coal. New, planned coal-burning power plants will add to the power generated by existing power plants to generate even more electricity from coal in 2023. Today, power plants running on imported coal with a total capacity of 6,000 megawatts are in the process of review and evaluation from the Energy Market Regulatory Board in anticipation of receiving their licenses. Taking into account the imported coal and natural gas power plants that have applied for licensing, we can calculate that Turkey’s foreign energy dependency is currently around 70% and that it will not change much by 2023, despite the fact that the entire potential of domestic coal and hydroelectrics will be generating energy. 

The constantly increasing energy demand
We have briefly summarized the energy aspect of the government’s strategic targets and have discovered that the results of such a strategy would not create a solid energy future for Turkey. There is a close relationship between energy and growth. In an economy, the measure of growth is defined as the increase in the production of goods and services. The production of more goods and the providing of more services go hand in hand with increased energy consumption. It is important to remember that the consumption of energy itself supports growth. But, at the same time, there are consequences and damage caused by the energy that is considered the fuel for growth. Mines and energy power plants cause irreversible damage to the environment and increase Turkey’s contribution to global climate change. Since 1990, greenhouse gases emitted by Turkey have increased 124%; Turkey’s emissions rate of 5.7 tons per capita is above global average.*7 Even ignoring environmental issues, we are still faced with questions: Can Turkey’s energy resources support Turkey’s anticipated growth? How much, and in what ways does Turkey want to grow?  The answer to this question is also the answer to the first; how much Turkey wants to grow determines if Turkey’s energy resources will be sufficient or not.

Turkey’s 8.8% economic growth in 2011 is used as an example to other nations struggling with economic crises, but it is still a country where the quality and sustainability of growth is in dispute. Here the word sustainability has two meanings. The first includes an evaluation on an environmental basis, which is often neglected in Turkey. The second describes the consciousness of growth. Let’s look at the second definition of sustainability first. Turkey has been growing for 13 successive quarters.*8 Growth rates year-to-year have varied, but overall there is definite growth. The global economic crisis did not cause a serious financial bottleneck in the economy of Turkey, but it has caused zigzags on growth charts. After the economic crisis of 2001, the economy of Turkey slowed to a growth rate of 5.7%, and only crawled up to 6.2% in 2002. Record growth over this 12-year period was in 2004 with 9.4% growth. In 2008, after a dip, there was hardly any progress with a recorded 0.06% growth, followed by recession at -4.8% in 2009. After that year’s recession there were two years of booming growth, which again slowed in 2012 to 2.2% growth. Every 7 or 8 years, the economy of Turkey seems to suffer a financial bottleneck due to internal and external factors. Although its growth is often compared to China’s, growth in Turkey is not growing exponentially like it is in China. Turkey’s growth is marked by fits and starts, but shows an overall increasing trend. 

At first glance, it seems that demand for energy grows in parallel with an increase in growth. In 2000-2011, economic growth increased 4.36% overall, and the demand for electrical power increased 5.6%. In 2004, 2005, and 2010, we saw the opposite trend: As growth registered, respectively, 9.3%, 8.4%, and 9.2%, the rise in the consumption of electricity remained 6.2%, 7.1%, and 7.8%, respectively. In 2007, when growth was 4.7%, demand for electric power increased by 8.8%. The following year, Turkey’s economic growth was not substantial (0.7%) but the demand for electricity rose by 4.2%. Instead of insisting on a correlation, it seems wiser to talk about a “lack of control.”  Not only does this observation reject the idea that there is a general increase in the demand for electricity, but it also highlights the fact that it is difficult to use and illusionary to expect domestic growth rates to estimate energy or electricity demand. An examination of electrical power demand shows us how these estimates are misleading.

In 2005, the Turkish Electricity Transmission Company (Türkiye Elektrik İletim Anonim Şirketi, abbreviated as TEİAŞ) estimated that energy demand in 2001 would be 262 billion kilowatts per hour. However, in 2011, Turkey’s electrical demand remained steady at 230 billion kilowatts per hour. TEİAŞ’s 2005 estimate was off the mark by 12%. Some might say that with such a vibrant electric market, it is difficult to predict even six years into the future, and that 12% is an acceptable rate of error. But there is another example: According to its high-demand scenario, TEİAŞ’s October 2010 capacity report estimated that that year’s electrical demands would stay just below 220 billion kilowatts per hour, a forecasted annual increase of 5%. However, the actual annual increase was 9%. Obviously, the issue is not only the accurate estimate of electrical demand for the future, but for the present. If demand is not managed in Turkey, then we will be forced to continue attempting to solve the energy problem based on policies of supply. Without access to unlimited energy resources, this will inevitably cause difficulties in the financial and political arenas.

The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources’ estimates point to a continuous increase in already high rates of energy demands. Both TEİAŞ scenarios insist on continuing with the same operational scheme despite the miscalculations from the previous years. In the scenario where the demand for electricity is low, the annual average increase is expected to be 6.5%; in the high-demand scenario, the average expected increase rises to 7.5%. This means that in 2020, the gross demand will be between 400 and 433 billion kilowatts per hour. Considering that consumption in 2012 was around 240 kilowatts per hour, those figures would indicate a significant increase in demand over the next eight years. The Ministry may not give such things as solar energy or energy performance much consideration, but not everyone is of the same mind. Necdet Pamir, Chairman of the Energy Commission of the opposition Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, or CHP) believes that Turkey has the potential to generate enough power even for the high-demand scenario: "Last year Turkey consumed 241 billion kilowatts per hour of electricity. The fact is, our resources are at a level capable of meeting an average of 7% growth. We have a potential 100 billion kilowatts per hour from hydroelectric power plants, 12 billion kilowatts per hour from wind energy, 16 billion kilowatts per hour from geothermal energy and 380 billion kilowatts per hour from solar power. There are also 116 billion kilowatts per hour from lignite and 35 billion m³ from biogas. So in total there are resources adding up to over 700 billion kilowatts per hour. This is surely far over our consumption of 241 billion kilowatts per hour".*9

But the picture Pamir paints doesn’t make environmentalists happy, either. For many environmentalists in Turkey, the use of coal and hydroelectric power plants crosses a red line. The important issue is how to solve the energy problem without depleting all potential energy sources. This can only be achieved through questioning energy performance and demand. The so-called necessity for growth that pushes Turkey to consume more energy itself needs to be discussed. There should be specifications for which energy-intensive industries should be active and which should not be allowed to operate or be capped.       
The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources estimates point to an ever-increasing high demand for energy. This is not a position that is particular to the government; often, it misguides those –like investors– who don’t know Turkey in great detail. These estimates are the expression of a desire; they do not actually reflect the indication that energy demand will increase. Supporters of classical financial theories for Turkey’s sustained growth are dreaming of great increases in the per capita GDP. Executives in the energy sector who believe in the probability of increased demand have prepared their own scenarios based on continuous demand. Perhaps both sides have the wrong idea; neither has considered using energy more efficiently and more sustainably through a low-rate increase or even decreasing energy demand. Neither has considered an economy composed of using less energy to attain the same per capita GDP goals instead of relying solely on the idea of an economy composed of energy-intense sectors manufacturing products with higher added value. Turkey’s demand estimates have not –at least no yet– reflected this idea. Germany, for example, produced 100 units of per capita GDP by consuming 100 units of energy in 1990; in 2010, it produced 131 units of per capita GDP by consuming 94 units of energy. The efficient use of energy has a great role in this achievement.*10

Turkey has a lot of work to do in energy efficiency. In order to achieve an increase of €1000 per capita GDP, Turkey must consume an equivalent of 233 kilograms of petrol. The same economic growth is achieved with the equivalent of 147 kilograms in Greece, 80 in Switzerland, 141 in Germany, 123 in Italy, and 92 in Ireland.*11 Put in different terms, Turkey consumes 2 to 3 times more energy than many countries in Europe to produce the same product or to provide the same service. Even more disheartening, while the rest of the world is trying to find new ways to use energy more efficiently, Turkey has shown no development in this regard since 1990. In that year, Turkey consumed 242 kilograms of petrol to add €1000 to the per capita GDP. In European countries whose economies are similar to Turkey’s, there has been a marked change towards using energy in a more intelligent manner; Turkey has not followed suit. 

The secret to producing more with less energy lies in the choices made in transportation, production, housing, and industry. When more efficient machinery is used, when buildings are insulated and public transportation is developed, the demand for energy decreases, thus allowing for demand management. If we can manage the demand and use of energy in an efficient way, there may be no need to construct the many power plants that are currently underway, and economic growth could be realized while consuming less energy. 

Consumption as the source of growth in Turkey
We know that domestic demand contributes greatly to growth in Turkey, so it is not surprising that the present government would be encouraging a population boom.*12 If individual consumption decreases, growth comes to a halt. An increase in population contributes to growth through the corresponding increase in demand for consumer goods and services. Despite its current population of 75 million, the government of the Republic of Turkey is preparing a stimulus package for families with multiple children. There is more reason for the government to act now because of the anticipated decrease in population after 2050. 

According to 2013 statistics, the average number of children per woman in Turkey is two. If the downward trend continues, Turkey’s population is expected to reach 84.24 million in 2023. The population will peak at 93 million in 2050 before it begins to dip. In 2023, the elderly (65 years and older) population is expected to reach 8.3 million, or 10% of the total population. In 2075, the elderly population will constitute an estimated 27% of the total.*13 Perhaps Prime Minister Erdoğan’s assertion that families should have at least three children has as its foundation in the fact that the elderly population will not be able to sustain domestic demand. Erdoğan should not be concerned about the 2075 proportion of the elderly to the total population, whose percentages are comparable to current rates in Europe. On the contrary, he should be worried that the Turkish economy - without any structural change - will be dependent on domestic demand for growth even 60 years from today. In many European countries - Sweden, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Finland, for example - the elderly already constitutes 27% of the total population.*14 Turkey’s booming construction industry, and its activated commerce and transport sectors might well be the reasons behind the government’s support of families with many children, but ecologically it is not sustainable as a comparison between Turkey’s biological capacity and its ecological footprint will tell us. In Turkey, the ecological footprint of per person consumption is 2.7 global hectares; that is over 50% of the global biological capacity. In other words, if everyone in the world consumed as much as a citizen of Turkey, we would need 1.5 planets. The most striking data from “Turkey’s Ecological Footprint,” a report compiled by the WWF and the Global Footprint Network, is as follows: Despite the stability of the Ecological Footprint per capita in Turkey, the footprint of consumption has increased 150% in total. The main reason for this increase is the great population increase that occurred from 1961 to 2007.*15
Considering that the individual consumption rate hasn’t changed over the long term and that consumption increased with the population increase (although those born in the 2000s tend to consume more than those born in the 1960s) it is understandable why families in Turkey –a country where consumption means growth– need to have more children to sustain it. But understanding alone will surely not help Turkey reduce ecological damage.

Other data presented in the report is even more important. In the 1990s, Turkey was able to keep its ecological footprint and its biological capacity in line, but since 2002 its ecological footprint has been growing rapidly and since 2006 its biological capacity has been decreasing.*16 We must evaluate the realization of the AKP’s growth policies since their rise to power in 2002 with the subsequent increase in Turkey’s ecological footprint as well as the decrease in its biological capacity; Turkey’s growth policies aren’t only increasing energy consumption; they are laying the foundations for ecological problems.

The very idea that this growth policy and the excessive energy consumption that goes with it can be supported by domestic resources alone must be called into question. Although it is possible to have a balanced economy with only imported energy, like South Korea, it wouldn’t be possible without exporting a large quantity of higher added value products. There is another way for Turkey and for other countries. Rather than trying to meet limitless consumption with limited resources, Turkey could limit its consumption and allow the manufacture of primary products or put caps on the arms industry.

One might find this too radical as a suggestion. However, global temperatures could go up 1.5-2.5 degrees Celsius, causing the extinction of various species of plants and animals. Now let’s ask ourselves again: Is it really radical to suggest that we control the use of resources expended on the production of luxury automobiles and combat aircrafts?

*1.         In the 2010-2014 Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Turkey this rate is announced as 73%, p: 22.
*2.         Turkey’s Natural Gas Market: Expectations and Developments 2012, Deloitte, p: 18.
*3.         Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Turkey, 2010-2014: p: 24.
*4.         Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Turkey Annual Budget Presentation for 2013, p: 70.
*5.         Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Turkey, An Outlook on Energy in Turkey and in the World Presentation, transparency 19.
*6.         This data was last viewed on May 12, 2013 at http://www.enerji.gov.tr/index.php?dil=tr&sf=webpages&b=ruzgar&bn=231&hn=&nm=384 &id=40696. 48,000 mw indicates the installed capacity of units constructed in regions with winds of over 7 m/s.
*7.         TÜİK, Inventory of the Emission of Greenhouse Gases, 1990-2011.
*8.         This data was last viewed on May 12, 2013 at http://www.bloomberght.com/haberler/haber/1329715-turkiye-2012de--2-2-buyudu.
*9.         “We have the energy potential to meet seven per cent growth,” Dünya Newspaper. This data was last viewed on May 12, 2013 at http://www.dunya.com/yuzde-7-buyumeyi-karsilayacak-enerji-potansiyeline-sahibiz-187752h-p2.htm .
*10.      Climate Protection and Growth, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, p: 13.
*11.      Eurostat data for 2010, May 21, 2013.
*12.      Growth and Structural Problems in the Economy of Turkey, BETAM Research Notes, edited by Prof. Dr. Seyfettin Gürsel.
*13.      TÜİK, Population Projections 2013-2075, February 14, 2013.
*14.      Eurostat, Projected Old-Age Dependency Ratio.
*15.      Turkey’s Ecological Footprint, WWF Turkey and the Global Footprint Network, p: 7.
*16.  Turkey’s Ecological Footprint, WWF Turkey and the Global Footprint Network, diagram 9.

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