Turkey and coal

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This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Turkey and coal.

Turkey has large reserves of low grade lignite and some hard coal resources but current coal production is overwhelmingly for domestic power generation. After a decade in which rapidly rising power demand was met from new gas-fired power stations based on imported gas, in mid-2012 the Turkish government signaled its intent to drive a switch back to domestic coal.

Underlying the switch in policy are concerns about the vulnerability of power generation to disruptions of gas supplies and the increasing gas import bill. In 2012 the country experienced major gas shortages and power cuts when gas supplied from Iran and Azerbaijan were simultaneously cut due to technical problems. As gas prices track oil prices, the cost of Turkeys rapidly rising imports of gas has put pressure on the country's balance of payments. One analyst noted that an extra $10 a barrel on the oil price "adds about $4bn a year to Turkey’s import bill."[1]

As a result government incentives for new gas-fired power stations have been scrapped and instead switched to encourage new coal-fired power stations. In mid-2012 the energy minister, Taner Yildiz, stated that the country's coal resource was enough to support 17,000 megawatts of coal-fired power stations, equivalent to approximately one-third of the country's current installed capacity. To encourage the switch from gas to coal Yildiz flagged that the government intends to call for tenders for 5,000 to 6,000 MW of new plants in 2012 with up to 18,000 MW by 2023.[1] The government is simultaneously pursuing a rapid program of privatising the power industry and encouraging private investment in previously undeveloped coalfields.

However, in April 2013 Bloomberg reported that Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told an energy conference that Turkey had an electricity surplus of about 4,500 megawatts or 7.8 percent of total capacity in 2012. Sinan Ak, the chief executive of the energy company Zorlu estimated that the surplus could reach 10,000 megawatts in 2013. Ak told Bloomberg that economic policies aimed to cutting the rate of inflation and reducing the current-account deficit had slowed electricity demand creating a surplus as new power stations were being commissioned.[2]

In its Medium Term Coal Report 2012, the International Energy Agency flagged that it expected only 0.4% growth per year in coal demand between 2012 and 2017 with "the bulk of this growth in coal demand in Turkey".[3]

Coal resources

EuraCoal, a European mining industry lobby group, estimates that Turkey has around 1.3 billion tonnes of hard coal and 11.5 billion tonnes of lignite resources, of which 0.5 billion tonnes and 9.8 billion tonnes respectively are proven reserves.[4]

Power generation

Per-capita energy use in Turkey is low, however energy demand has grown rapidly. Between 1998 and 2009 the installaed capacity of the Turkish electricity system grew from 23,354 megawatts to 44,766MW, a compound annual growth rate of 6.1%. A Deloitte report from 2010 reported that lignite and hard-coal fired power stations between them accounted for 24% of the installed capacity of the system. Approximately half the coal used for power generation is imported.[5] With a young population and a rapidly growing economy, the installed capacity is projected to grow rapidly.

Turkey’s natural non-renewable energy resources consist almost exclusively of lignite and small amounts of hard coal, however the country is heavily dependent on imports of coal, oil and gas. It is estimated that the country imports approximately 72% of total primary energy needs.

The Turkish government is in the process of privatising what remains of the publicly owned electricity industry. Ahead of sales of generation assets the government has sold a number of the regional distribution companies in the hope of creating a competitive environment which stimulates further investment in generation. The Turkish electricity generation system, which was dominated by publicly owned EUAS, has been progressively opened up to private power generators. Deloitte reports that between 2001 and 2009 publicly owned generation dropped from 78% to 46%.[5] As part of the power generation privatisation process, 13 thermal power plants and 28 hydroelectric plants have been grouped into 9 portfolios for sale. It is intended that these portfolios of assets be sold after the completion of the sale of the gas-fired Hamitabat power station and three coal-fired plants - the Soma power station, the Can power station and the Seymitor power stations. (See Privatisation of Turkey's power industry for more details).

Isken's 1320 megawatt coal-fired Sugözü Power Plant was the first privately owned power station in Turkey. The power station, which is located at Iskenderun, is based on imported coal.

Move away from gas to coal

In early 2013 Platts reported that "interest in developing coal-fired plant in Turkey has increased dramatically recently following statements by Energy Minister Taner Yildiz that Turkey has to diversify away from using imported gas to generate power and to make more of its underused domestic coal reserves, and by deputy prime minister Ali Babacan that he is planning to introduce investment incentives to encourage further development of coal-fired power plant."[6]

The government's drive to encourage coal-fired development follows unsuccessful efforts to persuade Russia to reduce the costs of gas. In the absence of stable alternative suppliers and rising concern about the impact of gas costs on the current account deficit, Turkey is seeking to emphasize investment in new coal-plants rather than -gas fired plants. In support of the new strategy the government has cut switched financial incentives from gas-fired to coal-fired plants and encouraged new private sector in domestic coal mining projects. Turkish companies are also seeking out new sources of coal beyond their borders. [7] The government has also passed legislation allowing for the privatisation of state-owned coalfields along with the 6.7 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power stations they supply.[8]

While the government have flagged its desire to have a massive expansion in coal-fired power stations, some analysts are unpersuaded. One noted in mid-2012 that not only were most of the country's coal resources low grade, and therefore relatively expensive to generate electricity from, but that two tenders over the previous decade for two 1,000 MW plants to use coal from the Afsin Elbistan coalfield only attracted one bid.[1]

There are also risks that the government will lock itself into expensive power purchase agreements from privately owned plants. David O'Byrne writing on a Financial Times blog reported that "as one potential bidder explained to the FT, even if plants were given the coal for free, there is no guarantee they would be profitable without offtake guarantees - which Turkey is loathe to offer because of the upward pressure they put on power prices."[1]

Coal mining

Most of the coal mining operations in Turkey are undertaken by government-owned companies. Turkiye Taskomuru Kurumu Genel Mudurlu (TTK) mines hard coal at five mines but mostly near Zonguldak in the western Black Sea region. Turkiye Komur lsletmesi Kurumu (TKI) mines lignite in Afsin-Elbistan in southeast Anatolia for domestic power stations. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that in 2010 approximately 3.7 million tonnes of hard run-of-mine coal was mined in Turkey and 74.4 million tonnes of run-of-mine lignite.[9]

The USGS identifies the major anthracite coal mines and their 2010 production capacity as being;[9]

  • Armutcuk mine at Armutcuk in Eregli province with an annual capacity of 400,000 tonnes. The mine is operated by Armutcuk Taskomuru Isletme Muessesesi which is a subsidiary of the government controlled Turkiye Taskomuru Kurumu Genel Mudurlu (TTK);
  • Amasra mine at Amasra in Bartin province with an annual capacity of 300,000 tonnes. The mine is also operated by Armutcuk Taskomuru Isletme Muessesesi;
  • the Karadon mine at Kilimli in Zonguldak province with an annual capacity of 450,000 tonnes. The mine is operated by Karadon Taskomuru Isletme Muessesesi, a subsidiary of TTK;
  • Kozlu mine at Kozlu in Zonguldak province with an annual capacity of 600,000 tonnes. The mine is operated by Kozllu Taskomuru Isletme Muessesesi, a subsidiary of TTK;
  • Uzulmez mine at Asma in Zonguldak province with an annual capacity of 500,000 tonnes. The mine is operated by Uzulmez Taskomuru Isletme Muessesesi, a subsidiary of TTK.

The USGS also lists the major lignite mines as:

  • Bursa lignite mine at Orhaneli in Bursa province with an annual capacity of 1 million tonnes. The facility is operated by Bursa Linyitleri lsletmesi Mudurlu, a subsidiary of Turkiye Komur lsletmesi Kurumu (TKI), a government owned company.
  • Can lignite mine at Can in Canakkale province with an annual capacity of 1.8 million tonnes. The facility is operated by Can Linyitleri lsletmesi Mudurlu, a subsidiary of of TKI;
  • the Soma mine at Soma in Manisa Province with an annual capacity of 10.5 million tonnes. The mine is operated by Ege Linyitleri Isletme Muessesesii Mudurlugu, a subsidiary of TKI;
  • the Tuncbilek mining center at Tavsanli, in Kutahya province with an annual capacity of 7 million tonnes. The mine is operated by Garp Linyitleri Isletme Muessesesii Mudurlugu, a subsidiary of TKI;
  • the South Aegean lignite mine at Yatagan in Mugla province with an annual capacity of 4.9 million tonnes. The mine is operated by Güney Ege Linyitleri Isletme Muessesesii Mudurlugu, a subsidiary of TKI;
  • Ilgin lignite mine at Ilgin in Konya province with an annual capacity of 300,000 tonnes. The mine is operated by Ilgin Linyitleri Isletme Muessesesii Mudurlugu, a subsidiary of TKI;
  • the Seyitomer lignite mine at Seyitomer in Kutahya Province an annual capacity of 8 million tonnes. The facility was operated by Seyitomer Linyitleri Isletme Muessesesii Mudurlugu, a subsidiary of TKI until 2013. In early 2013 Turkey's Privatization Authority sold the operating rights of its lignite-fired Seyitomer Power Plant for $2.25 billion to the Turkish company, Celikler Insaat.[10]; and
  • Yenikoy lignite mine at Oren in Mulga province an annual capacity of 8.5 million tonnes. The facility is operated by Yenikoy Linyitleri Isletme Muessesesii Mudurlugu, a subsidiary of TKI.

Existing power plants

The U.S. Energy Information Service states that coal-fired power generation accounts for approximately 25% of Turkey's electricity.[11]

Some of the coal-fired power stations in Turkey are:

Environmental problems and protests at existing plants

Activists board one of the world's largest coal platforms at Botas Oil Terminal, stopping barges from importing coal to the Sugozu (Isken) coal fired power plant.
  • Yatağan plant: Constructed in 1976, this 630 MW power plant lacked a functioning waste-gas filtering system for 30 years. According to one press report, thousands of local residents filed complaints, and the trials linked to the plant became "one of the staple cases at the European Court of Human Rights."[12] The plant has been the target of a campaign by Greenpeace since 1994. The plant has long been considered a blight on the scenic Aegean coast.[13]
  • Kahramanmaraş plant: This plant operated without a purification system for 20 years, damaging local agriculture and leading to complaints from local citizens. [12]
  • Muğla’s Gökova plant: This plant is credited with ending efforts to develop the area as a nature-tourism destination.[12]
  • Sugozu power station: In September 2008, four climbers from Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior were arrested after they occupied a giant coal loading platform to prevent a delivery of coal to this coal plant, which emits 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.[14]

Proposed coal plants

According to a Reuters report, Turkey is planning to add 22 gigawatts of new coal-fired generating capacity during 2010-2012.[15] According to a report in Hurryiyet Daily News, Turkey currently has 15 coal-fired power plants, and the Energy Market Regulatory Agency (EPDK) has approved applications for approximately 46 additional projects, each 100 MW or larger.[12] For more detailed list of the proposed coal fired power stations in Turkey see Proposed coal plants in Turkey.

Coal-fired power stations financed by international public investment institutions

Coal-fired power stations financed by international public investment institutions include:[16]

Coal plants and mines in Afsin-Elbistan

In January, 2013, the UAE's state power company Taqa signed an agreement with Turkey's state-run Electricity Generation for $12 billion worth of power plants and coal mines in the Afsin-Elbistan region -- a project with a combined power generation capacity of up to 7,000 MW. Taqa will acquire and expand the existing 1,400MW Afsin-Elbistan B power station and develop several new power plants and associated mines in sectors C, D, E, and G of the Afsin-Elbistan region. Turkey reportedly favors the mining and burning of the lignite coal in the region to reduce imports of natural gas.[17]

Hattat plants and mines

In April 2012, Hattat Holding AS, a Turkish group with interests in mining, auto, and energy, signed an agreement to build three power plants each with a capacity of 660 megawatts for $2 billion with China Power Investment Corporation (CPIZ) and Avic International. The agreement includes developing coal mines for $300 million in Bartin in northern Turkey where the plants will be located. The plants will be coal-fired.[18]

In May 2013 Hattat Holding and China-based Harbin Electric International signed a deal to build a 2,640 megawatts (MW), $2.4 billion coal plant in Amasra, northwestern Turkey.[19]

Proposed TurkPower Plant

On Dec. 1, 2010, TurkPower Corporation said it is has signed a consulting and sell mandate with the owner of a lignite fired thermal power plant project, to consult in the development, construction and financing of its 500MW capacity lignite thermal power plant ("TPP") project in Konya, Turkey. The TPP project includes a lignite mine to fuel the plant. Lignite reserves are calculated to be 152,000,000 million metric tons, and can supply the TPP for an estimated 42 years. The mine shows an average lignite thickness of 12 meters and the licensed mining area is 1,852 acres and the license is valid for 42 years. Site exploration studies were conducted by North American Coal Corporation. Total investment necessary to fund the project is approximately $1.26 billion.[20]

Proposed Gerze coal plant

"Let our lovely Gerze stay lovely. We don't want a thermal power plant to come to our Gerze..."

A 1200 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant proposed for the Black Sea coast has been the center of repeated protest. In March 2010, residents of village of Yaylik prevented a public meeting organized by plant's sponsor, the Anadolu Group, forcing workers to leave their village. The villagers subsequently posted a guard to prevent drilling teams from working in the village. In September 2011, three buses of gendarmerie officers used tear gas and truncheons against the protesting villagers, injuring four people and igniting a nearby forest. Comert Uygar Erdem, a lawyer representing the residents, said that the company lacked a license from the Ministry of Environment, that the Assessment of Environmental Impact had not been completed, and that the project was proceeding due solely to the governor's permission. Erdem asserted out that due to Roman and early Byzantine archeological findings the plant location should be declared a historically protected area.[21]

On November 26, 2011 it was reported that ten thousand people from various provinces and districts of Turkey gathered in the town of Gerze to protest the construction of the plant. The demonstration was organized by the Platform for a Green Gerze (YEGEP) and attended by members of the Green Party, the Ecology Collective, Greenpeace and others. The demonstration was carried out and brought to an end peacefully. The protestors chanted slogans like "Gerze does not want coal" and "The people of Gerze do not stand alone".[22]

Gerze mayor Osman Belovacikli supports the resistance against the plant, and said he has taken an initiative to bring wind energy technology to Gerze.[23]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 David O'Byrne, "Turkish power: coal or gas?", Beyond Brics (Financial Times blog), July 16, 2012.
  2. Ercan Ersoy, "Turkey Excess Power Seen Delaying Projects as Zorlu Prefers Coal", Bloomberg, April 25, 2013.
  3. International Energy Agency, Medium Term Coal Report 2012, December 2012, page 13. (Subscription required).
  4. "Turkey" European Association for Lignite and Coal, accessed November 28, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Deloitte, Turkish Energy Industry Report, Investment Support and Promotion Agency, Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry, August 2010, page 3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Delp3" defined multiple times with different content
  6. "GDF-Suez consortium applies to develop 1.32 GW coal plant in Turkey", Platts, January 28, 2013.
  7. "Turkey dumps pricey gas for power generation", BNE, January 29, 2013.
  8. David O'Byrne, "Turkish coal faces a revival", BNE, February 18, 2013.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Philip M. Mobbs, "2010 Minerals Yearbook: Turkey", United States Geological Survey, April 2012, page 56.7
  10. "Turkey Sells 600-Megawatt Seyitomer Lignite-Fired Plant for $2.25 Billion", Industrial Info Europe, January 3, 2013.
  11. U.S. Energy Information Service, "Turkey: Background", U.S. Energy Information Service, accessed May 2010.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Serkan Ocak, "Coal's firepower to rule on coasts," Hurriyet DailyNews.com, accessed Decmeber 23, 2011
  13. Huseyin Kandemir and Debbie Lovatt, "Plant Fumes in Power Vacuum" Gemini News Service, July 13, 2001
  14. "Coal shipment stopped in Turkey," Greenpeace International, September 15, 2008
  15. Vera Eckert and Jackie Cowhig, "Analysis: Turkey to make up for falling Europe coal use," Reuters, September 1, 2010
  16. "Coal Fired Plants Financed by International Public Investment Institutions since 1994", Appendix A in Foreclosing the Future: Coal, Climate and International Public Finance: Investment in coal-fired power plants hinders the fight against global warming, Environmental Defense, April 2009.
  17. Haseeb Haider, "Taqa signs $12b Turkey deal," Khaleej Times, January 4, 2013.
  18. Ercan Ersoy, "Hattat Partners China Power, Avic for $2 Billion Power Plants," Bloomberg, April 10, 2012.
  19. "Turkish and Chinese companies ink $2.4 billion coal-based power plant deal," Turkish Weekly, May 11, 2013.
  20. "TurkPower Corporation Announces Significant New Coal Power Plant Mandate" MarketWire, Dec. 1, 2010.
  21. "Police attacked villagers after protesting thermal plant," Bianet, September 6, 2011
  22. "Resistance against Coal-Fired Plant in Gerze" Bianet, November 28, 2011.
  23. Yonca Poyraz Dogan, "Black Sea jewel town threatened by coal plant, daunted locals resist," Today's Zaman, April 1, 2012.

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