Turkey is continuing its efforts to decrease its dependence on imported energy with ongoing exploration in natural gas and oil, both on land and in the sea. Coal reserves have also increased with mining activities out over the last 15 years. Moreover, the impact of incentives provided for wind, solar, geothermal and biomass for new electricity generation investments have been been significant over the last five years. The majority of newly-installed power plants are those based on renewable resources.
Another dimension of Turkey’s efforts to decrease external dependence is the development and usage of local equipment and technologies. In fact, Turkey has begun to actively call for localization in tenders on renewable energy-based electricity generation licenses. Those who were granted wind and solar power plant tenders opened under the Renewable Energy Resource Areas (YEKA), have agreed to set up facilities for equipment production and R&D centers.
FIRST YEKA SPP RUNS
So, what is the current status of these projects? Kalyon Holding ’s subsidiary operating in the energy industry, Kalyon Enerji, which won the first YEKA Solar Power Plant (SPP) tender, has started to gradually bring its 1,000-megawatt (MW) SPP in Konya Karapinar online. Ersan Tufekci, Executive Board Member of Kalyon Enerji gave information about the company’s works within the scope of the YEKA SPP tender at the Gunesli Sohbetler (Solar Talks) event organized by the online energy news platform Enerji Gunlugu under the theme Localization, Patent and Branding in Solar Equipment. Kalyon’s solar panel production plant in Ankara operates at full capacity now, according to Tufekci. These panels are sent to the Karapinar SPP, which is under construction and the capacity of the plant is increasing steadily.
DOMESTIC RAW MATERIAL AND SEMI-FINISHED PRODUCT NEED
Tufekci said the materials needed for solar equipment production don’t exist in Turkey while local firms that should be able to produce them lack the knowledge to do so. He emphasized that the market should develop so that companies considering manufacturing such products will survive. “No one even manufactures panel glass,” Tufekci said, stressing that no concrete steps have taken though plans and projects have been proposed. Kalyon Enerji is currently holding talks with the glass firm Sisecam about this issue. However, no results have been obtained yet.
Companies in Turkey should agree on standardization of solar equipment and inputs to be used in their production, according to Tufekci. A strong manufacturing infrastructure and a strong solar market can be created, he added, if such an agreement is reached and local production is supported.
TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL
The most important factor for developing solar equipment is technological innovation, according to Mehmet Ali Ergin, Board Member of GTC Solar. “Technology is the yeast of this business. Using someone else’s yeast won’t take us anywhere,” he said, stressing that public procurement is critical in the development of local solar equipment and its technology in Turkey. Accordingly, purchasing policies in energy projects under the control of the central and local governments should be developed in favor of local manufacturing. “It’s very important that the government promotes domestic production with tender specifications. If specifications aren’t prepared in line with this, everyone will head towards the cheapest imported product,” said Ergin.
GTC Solar manufactures and sells panels to create an R&D budget for itself. The ultimate goal of the company is to become a technology firm, according to Ergin. He also emphasized that collaboration of local companies will move the sector forward.
Time to invest in local semiconductors
Kemal Ertugran, General Manager of the Kolin Holding subsidiary and inverter manufacturer Solarkol, noted that semiconductors, electronic boards, and components are used in many products from watches to air conditioners manufactured in Turkey. That’s why these areas need investments in Turkey, he said. “The time has already come, and we have a long way to go”. The company also works on optimizer manufacturing along with inverters, while it also has a team for the efficient operation of plants as well as for production and development of necessary software.