The energy independence goals of Turkey could be met by renewable energy, rather than its current coal-centric strategy, according to new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The research, funded by the European Climate Foundation and commissioned by WWF-Turkey, was published Tuesday, and shows that an alternative approach based on building up a sizeable renewable energy base would not only benefit the country’s environment, but also cost around the same as its current coal-led strategy while divesting from fossil fuel imports, such as natural gas.
“This study shows that Turkey could pursue a cleaner energy development pathway to 2030 at similar costs to the coal-based plan that is being proposed, at the same time as limiting some risks,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“Total costs would be similar and, while there might be some extra grid improvement and balancing costs, there would be reduced exposure to commodity prices, as well as reduced carbon emissions and air pollution, which has been such a blight for coal-based economies.”
The two scenarios presented in the BNEF White Paper would cost approximately $400 billion for the coal-led strategy, and $406 billion for the renewables plan.
The White Paper presented two separate scenarios, the first being a “business as usual” strategy, which represents the current coal-led strategy. The authors note that their first scenario is “much like the official plan but with more realistic assumptions for power demand and nuclear and renewables build-out.”
Coal-fired power plants in Turkey
According to the report, fossil fuel generation would account for 60% of the total electricity supply in 2030, which would subsequently push up power sector emissions by a massive 86%.
The second option, what BNEF labelled “Renewables Development Pathway,” would focus on expanding wind, solar, and hydro capacity to account for the country’s growing energy needs. Such a scenario could benefit from projected sharp reductions in levelised cost of electricity and would anchor emissions levels marginally above current levels.
Unsurprisingly, Turkey would need to step up their current efforts towards renewable energy development, but Bloomberg believes it to be a do-able option.
Uğur Bayar, director of the board of WWF-Turkey, said: “The question we asked Bloomberg New Energy Finance was: is a sustainable and a cleaner energy mix in power generation possible for Turkey? What could be the cost of such a scenario? The analysis concludes that a renewables-based energy strategy to overcome dependence on natural gas could be cost-comparable to a strategy that is focused on coal. If externalities such as carbon costs are factored in, the comparison looks even better for renewables.”
Turkey and China Both
The White Paper’s release comes on the same day as a report announcing how China can do much the same thing. Covered earlier today, the report conducted by Tsinghua University that “China can achieve economic development, energy security and reduce pollution at the same time.”
“The Global New Climate Economy Report which was launched this September provided strong evidence that economic growth could benefit from action on climate change,” said Chen Yuan, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC, who is also a member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. “China and the New Climate Economy reinforces this message. It indicates that China can ensure healthy economic development, improve energy security and reduce climate risks through collaborative governance on economic, energy and environmental goals.”
The two reports highlight a more and more common theme — that renewables need not be the expensive option. Many critics have made their careers dismissing renewable energies as too expensive — the realm of rich western nations.
Recent analysis published by the Carbon Tracker Initiative earlier this month contrasted suggestions made by Peabody Energy — the world’s largest publicly traded coal company — that coal was Africa’s only route to energy independence and out of energy poverty.
The analysis highlighted the often-overlooked and inherent costs of coal, the infrastructure necessary to move the generated energy anywhere — infrastructure such as roads and powerlines that Africa, and other emerging economies, simply do not have in the same quantity and quality as Western nations.
In essence, turning critics mindless jabs back on them.
Renewable energy has long since passed its days of technological infancy and cost, developing into a mainstream technology and investment source. Labelling them as expensive serves no one, as it undermines any legitimate arguments that may exist against renewable energy, and prevents millions from access to life-saving sources of energy. In the end, the renewable industry will win out through sheer numbers and time, but in the meantime, renewable energy proponents will continue to bemoan the slow progress in countries that need it most.
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