Turkey and coal

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Turkey emits 1% of the world's greenhouse gas, 1/3 from coal[1], but government subsidizes new coal-fired power plants[2]. Low grade lignite pollutes city air when burnt to heat older buildings. Turkey has large reserves of such lignite and the government aims to burn more of it in power stations, to minimize imports of hard coal and natural gas whilst meeting the energy needs of a growing population and economy.[3] Turkey currently has the third largest coal power plant development programme in the world, after India and China.[4] Solar photovoltaic module manufacturing is due to begin soon[5] but, despite abundant sunshine, the total solar electricity target for 2023 is far less than the increase planned for coal. However coal fired power projects face strong public opposition.



From 2000 to 2014 almost 100 miners died in accidents every year on average, and most mining accidents occur in coal mines.[6] Per GWh of electricity generated Turkey's mines are the most dangerous in the world[7] and unlike other countries fatality rates are not decreasing.[8] Worker death statistics are no longer published by the government.[9]

Air pollution

About 2800 people die prematurely every year, most from lung and heart diseases.[10] In 2018 at least 500kg of coal is being given to each poor family.[11] The Chamber of Environmental Engineers is calling for natural gas, instead of poor quality coal, to be provided as support to poor locals.[12]

Injury and illness

4300 hospital admissions annually are estimated to be due to air pollution from coal.[13]

National energy and mining policy

Coal supplies over one quarter of Turkey's primary energy including about one third of its electricity.[14] While the government have flagged its desire to have a massive expansion in coal-fired power stations, some MPs and analysts are unpersuaded. Opposition MPs debating in 2016 complained that Turkish coal plants would receive large public subsidies and exemptions from environmental regulations.[15]

There are also risks that the government will lock itself into expensive power purchase agreements from privately owned plants: for example power from Çayırhan-B will cost 60USD per MWh for 15 years.[16] In 2018 TETAŞ (the state-owned wholesale company which takes up previously stranded costs) will pay over 200 lira per MWh.[17]

The national energy and mining policy (Milli Enerji ve Maden Politikası) was announced in April 2017 by Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak.

The ministry, under the slogan and hashtag #BizimKömürümüzBizimEnerjimiz (our coal our energy)[18], aims by 2023 (the 100th anniversary of the republic) to have increased the coal-fired installed electricity generation capacity from the current level of 17 GW to 30 GW. [19]

In July 2017 opposition MPs requested a parliamentary enquiry into the health and environmental effects of the large number of coal-fired power stations planned and under construction.[20][21]

Turkey's policy may affect future negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and G20.[22]


Every thousand tons of domestic coal production annually means a job[3], however investing in solar energy would create far more.[23]



Coal receives multiple subsidies [24] totalling over 2 billion lira in 2016.[25] TETAŞ is the Turkish government owned wholesale company which takes up the stranded costs of domestic coal plants.


In addition to current healthcare costs extra are expected in future due to climate change.[26] And if Turkey's pollution regulations were improved to the EU Industrial Emissions Directive then removal of SO2 alone could cost between 75 and 100 million euros for each coal plant.[27]


As of 2017 Turkey intends to spend $14 billion for coal mining development and coal-fired power plants by 2023 (the centennial of the Turkish Republic).[28]

A local energy analyst writes in 2018 that international financial institutions will not invest.[29] Future Chinese investment is uncertain as it is not yet (end 2017) clear whether China's recent environmental cleanup at home will extend to investments in other countries.[30]

According to a 2017 analysis from İş Bankası the 30 year USD based government purchase guarantee encourages domestic banks to loan to projects which would burn local coal.[31] Turkish banks have financed 9GW of coal power plant capacity:[25] for example Garanti Bank has made many loans to coal projects over the years and, as of 2018, continues to offer finance for coal-fired power stations.


Law 27605 will regulate pollution (except CO2) from power plants, but not down to the limits of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive.[27] However state owned and privatized generation plants do not have to comply with environmental legislation until end 2019.[32] Academics have suggested an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for operational plants.[33]

Opponents claim that the “urgent expropriation law” has been used excessively by the current government to secure land to fast-track energy and development projects.[34]

Environmental Impact


Opponents claim that ash containing toxic elements has polluted air and soil and could leak into groundwater.[34]

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Because Turkey's coal-fired power stations mainly burn lignite, which produces more CO2 per kWh electricity generated than most other types of coal, for every kWh generated in Turkey by coal about 1kg of CO2 is emitted.[35] Turkey is the biggest producer of greenhouse gases among OECD countries,[36] and coal's share of Turkey's total greenhouse gas emissions is about 33% [37]. As total annual emissions per person amount to somewhat over 6 tons[38] (slightly over the world average) thus about 2 tons per person per year is from coal, amounting to 154 million tons in 2016.[39]

Paris climate change agreement

Turkey has signed, meaning that it is now obliged to refrain from acts that would defeat the treaty's object and purpose. [40] However it is the only Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development country which has not yet ratified the agreement and is therefore not legally bound by the terms of the treaty. At the 2017 (COP23) meeting to discuss the agreement Turkey requested financial support from the Green Climate Fund but climate finance was not agreed. [41] This may be one reason why Turkey has not ratified the agreement.[42] The treaty implies that OECD countries need to phase out coal use in power plants by 2030. [40]

Carbon Market

The IEA has suggested that Turkey should have a carbon market,[43] but despite some voluntary carbon trading [44] there is a lack of political will for the necessary legislation.[45] A carbon tax would also be a viable option but subsidies provided for high carbon fossil fuel sources in the country, such as lignite, would first have to be reduced. [46]

Building heating

Some older buildings are still heated by burning coal even in urban areas, where natural gas is available.



5.4m tonnes of coking coal and 0.7m tonnes of anthracite were imported in 2015 to use in steel production[47] at steelworks power stations such as Gebze Çolakoğlu.


4m tonnes of petcoke and 3m tonnes of coal were imported in 2015 to use in cement production[48] and the cement sector emitted 32 million tons of CO2.[49]


There are also many small power stations at sugar factories.[25]

Electricity generation

The installed capacity of the Turkish electricity system is currently about 80GW.[50] Due to the rapidly growing population and economy, and electrification of transport,[51] government forecast 120GW to be required by 2023.[19] However peak power demand in 2016 and 2017 was under 50GW.[52] Other forecasts are that; depending on the growth rates of population, GDP, imports and exports; electricity demand could double by 2030 or only increase slightly.[53]

Per-capita electricity use in Turkey is around the world average of 3MWh per year.[54] Lignite and hard-coal fired power stations between them account for 22% of the installed capacity of the system.[50] Approximately 30% of the coal used for power generation is imported,[3] from countries such as Russia.[55]

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. Only a quarter of the countries' primary energy needs are met from domestic resources.[56]

The Turkish government is in the process of privatising what remains of the publicly owned electricity industry. The Turkish electricity generation system, which was dominated by publicly owned EUAS, has been progressively opened up to private power generators. In November 2017 four thousand miners occupied a mine in Zonguldak to protest against privatization.[57] (See Privatisation of Turkey's power industry for more details).

Water impact

Turkey's lignite-fired power plants use significant amounts of fresh water.[58]

Electricity transmission

On average electricity is transmitted from the east of the country to the west. Sometimes power plants in Anatolia are curtailed and compensated due to transmission limitations on the European side of Istanbul.[59]. Lack of grid connectivity in suitable areas is hampering expansion of wind power.[31]

Coal Free Turkey

For more details, see Alternatives to coal in Turkey.

By taking advantage of Turkey's enormous solar energy potential Turkey's energy needs could be met without using coal.[60] This would increase employment and be cheaper in the long-term.[61]


Coal fields

Turkey has low proven reserves of anthracite, also known as hard coal, about 500 million tonnes concentrated in the Zonguldak basin in the western Black Sea region. But 15 billion tonnes of lignite are found across the country. [14]

Coal mining

Five hard coal mines are operated by the government-owned Turkiye Taskomuru Kurumu Genel Mudurlu (TTK). Turkiye Komur lsletmesi Kurumu (TKI) mines lignite in Afsin-Elbistan in southeast Anatolia. In 2017 over 80 million tons were mined and the target for 2018 is 100 million tons,[3] almost all lignite. Amongst the proposed lignite mines in Turkey those in Thrace, Eskişehir and Afyon would be underground; whereas those in Konya and Karamanmaraş would be opencast.[62]

Existing power plants

Coal generates about one third of Turkey's electricity.[14] Coal-fired power stations in Turkey which burn hard coal are generally near the coast as almost all hard coal is imported,[63] whereas those burning lignite are near coal fields.

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 power station: 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."[64] The plant has long been considered a blight on the scenic Aegean coast[65] and local people continue to protest that it has damaged their health and olive groves.[66]
  • Afşin-Elbistan power complex: A plant in Kahramanmaraş province operated without a purification system for 20 years, damaging local agriculture and leading to complaints from local citizens. [64]
  • Kemerköy power station: Muğla’s Gökova plant is credited with ending efforts to develop the area as a nature-tourism destination.[64]
  • 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.[67]

Coal-fired power stations financed by international public investment institutions

Coal-fired power stations which have been financed by international public investment institutions include the Afsin-Elbistan power complex.[68]

Proposed coal plants

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

Turkey is planning and constructing new coal plants to be fired by local lignite mines in Thrace,[69] Eskişehir, Afyonkarahisar, Kahramanmaraş, Bartin and other provinces. However Gerze power station was cancelled after strong local opposition.

Anadolu Enerji and Hattat Holding Energy Group are two of the companies involved, and more companies are due to be selected during 2018.

Articles and resources


  1. Şahin (2016), p. 7
  2. Acar (2015), p. 10
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Turkey to make full use of domestic coal to minimize imports, Daily Sabah, Nov 6, 2017.
  4. Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann, A new strategy for European Union-Turkey energy cooperation, Bruegel, October 2017.
  5. Turkey launches first solar cell integrated factory, Anadolu Agency, Dec 21, 2017.
  6. Turkey's mining safety: a bleak track record, BBC, May 15, 2014.
  7. Turkey long a graveyard for miners, Hürriyet Daily News, May 14, 2014.
  8. TEPAV (2016), p. 16
  9. Şahin (2016), p. 36
  10. Jenson (2014), p. 6
  11. 500 kilo kömür yardımı verilecek, Sabah, Jan 9, 2018.
  12. [www.hurriyetdailynews.com/environmental-chamber-warns-of-rising-air-pollution-levels-across-turkey-125298 Environmental chamber warns of rising air pollution levels across Turkey], Hürriyet Daily News, Jan 5, 2018.
  13. Şahin (2016), p. 36
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 "Coal," Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources
  15. Arthur Neslen, "Turkish coal plants in line for public subsidies", Guardian, Sept 6, 2016.
  16. "Kolin-Kalyon-Celikler win Cayirhan privatization tender", Anadolu Ajans, Feb 6, 2017.
  17. "TETAŞ'ın kömür santrallerinden alacağı elektrik fiyatı belirlendi", Memleket, Dec 2, 2017.
  18. ÖZGÜR GÜRBÜZ, "Bizim kömürümüz bizim zehrimiz", BirGün, 6 November 2017
  19. 19.0 19.1 “Energy and Renewables”, Invest in Turkey
  20. “Termik Santrallere ilişkin Araştırma Önergemiz”, HDP website, retrieved Jan 2018
  21. “Termik Santrallere ilişkin Araştırma Önergemiz”, parliament website, 18 July 2017
  22. “Reports of coal's terminal decline may be exaggerated”, Environmental Research Letters, 7 Feb. 2018
  23. Solar power to create 180,000 jobs in Turkey by 2023, Daily SAbah, Aug 31, 2017.
  24. Şahin (2016), p. 8
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 "Coal & Climate Change - 2017," Önder Algedik, Aug 2017
  26. Jensen (2017), p. 44
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Turkey’s Compliance with the Industrial Emissions Directive," tepav, 2015.
  28. "Turkey - Energy-Prospects-and-Mining Renewables- Smart Grid-Gas-Power Generation," U.S. Commercial Service Turkey, September 26, 2017
  29. Haluk DireskeneliTurkey: Project Finance Is Getting Too difficult For Thermal Power Plants – OpEd," Eurasia Review, January 23, 2018
  30. Arif Cem Gündoğan & Ethemcan Turhan, "China’s role in Turkey’s energy future," chinadialogue, September 26, 2017
  32. "Changes to the Electricity Law to Foster Growth," Lexology, January 3 2018
  33. "Environmental impact assessment of coal power plants in operation ," E3S Web of Conferences 22, 00011 (2017)
  34. 34.0 34.1 Gökçe Şencan, "The AKP’s dirty relationship with coal," Independent Turkey, April 10, 2017.
  35. Burcin Atilgan and Adisa Azapagic, "Life cycle environmental impacts of electricity from fossil fuels in Turkey," Journal of Cleaner Production, November 1, 2015.
  36. Energy and Climate Policy in Turkey’s 2015 G20 Sustainability Agenda," Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, June 23, 2017.
  37. Şahin (2016), p. 7
  38. Seragazı emisyonları 475,1 Mt CO2 eşdeğerine yükseldi," Turkish Statistical Institute, April 27, 2017.
  39. "CO2 emissions," Global Carbon Atlas
  40. 40.0 40.1 "[http://climateanalytics.org/files/climateanalytics-coalreport_nov2016_1.pdf Implications of the Paris Agreement for Coal Use in the Power Sector ]," ClimateAnalytics, November 2016.
  41. "COP23 - Day 12: Germany positive on results from Bonn," Clean Energy Wire, November 2017.
  42. "Michael Schneider,A Tangled Case – Turkey’s Status under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement," Initiative on Climate Change policy and Governance, July 2017.
  43. Energy Policy of Turkey 2016 review, IEA
  44. "State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2017," Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace, May 2017.
  45. "Roadmap for the consideration of establishment and operation of a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System in Turkey," Ecofys, 2016.
  46. Gökşin Bavbek,"Adopting a Carbon Tax in Turkey: Main Considerations," EDAM Energy and Climate Change Climate Action Paper Series 2016/3, Oct 2016.
  47. Schernikau (2016), p. 209
  48. Schernikau (2016), p. 209
  49. 2015 Envanteri: Türkiye iklimi değiştirecek!,Gazete Duvar, April 19 2017
  50. 50.0 50.1 "Electricity," Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources
  51. Bloomberg, Işık: Yerli otomobil menzili uzatılmış araç olsun, Bloomberg, November 2017
  53. The estimation of the electricity energy demand using particle swarm optimization algorithm: A case study of Turkey, ScienceDirect, December 2016
  54. Electric power consumption, World Bank, 2014
  55. New Black Sea coal terminal potentially delayed until 2019: sources, Platts, 12 Jan 2018
  56. TURKEY’S ENERGY PROFILE AND STRATEGY, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  57. Madencilerden, ocaktan çıkmama eylemi, Hürriyet, 6 Nov 2017
  58. Teske (2015), p. 78
  59. Spot elektrik piyasasında işlem yapan 15 elektrik santralinde üretim kesintisi yaşandı, Milliyet, 26 December 2017
  60. "Kilickaplan, Anil & Bogdanov, Dmitrii & Peker, Bülent & Caldera, Upeksha & Aghahosseini, Arman & Breyer, Christian.", "An energy transition pathway for Turkey to achieve 100% renewable energy powered electricity, desalination and non-energetic industrial gas demand sectors by 2050," Researchgate, 2017.
  61. Teske (2015), ch. 6
  62. "Turkey’s coal-fired visions," Lexology
  63. "Solid Fuels, August 2017" Turkish Statistical Institute, October 26, 2017
  64. 64.0 64.1 64.2 Serkan Ocak, "Coal's firepower to rule on coasts," Hurriyet DailyNews.com, accessed December 23, 2011
  65. Huseyin Kandemir and Debbie Lovatt, "Plant Fumes in Power Vacuum" Gemini News Service, July 13, 2001
  66. "Yatağan'da çevrecilerden kömür ocağına karşı eylem" Hürriyet, October 30, 2017
  67. "Coal shipment stopped in Turkey," Greenpeace International, September 15, 2008
  68. "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.
  69. "Domestic coal reserves to promote Turkish economic growth," Daily Sabah, June 24, 2017


  • Schernikau, Lars (2016). Economics of the International Coal Trade: Why Coal Continues to Power the World (2nd ed.). New York: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-46555-5. 

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External resources

External articles

Wikipedia:Türkiye'de kömür

Wikipedia:Category:Coal in Turkey