Skip to main content

Combating Energy & Water Demands through Innovation in Turkey

by: SPI


This document detail the most relevant issues that Turkey is currently facing with regards to energy and water, resources which are in critical need of replenishment to ensure Turkey remains a diverse and thriving country. 

Turkey is known for its beautiful beaches and picturesque landscapes, recently becoming one of the most popular travel and tourist destinations in the world. Turkey also has a plethora of rich biodiversity within its borders, harbouring three of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots.1 The organisms and plants inhabiting these nature-rich areas are vulnerable to the effects of change and the depletion of water resources, which has come to light in recent years. Hidden behind the vast beauty of the country are underlying issues with drought and diminishing groundwater levels, threatening Turkey’s biodiverse landscapes as existing water resources are not evenly dispersed across the country. Effective and integrated control of water resources is thus crucial for Turkey. 

Turkey is also facing troubles with electricity and energy supply. Renewable electricity production currently accounts for 8% of the country’s overall energy production, despite data that shows that Turkey certainly has sufficient access to wind, water and sunlight in order to maximise the potential of renewable energy methods. Turkey's Electricity Market and Security of Supply Strategy (or the International Energy Strategy) sets up an overall target of renewable energy supplying a minimum of 30% of overall energy produced by 2023, a target which may become achievable with governmental support and partnerships with willing SME’s.2


Who is this document for?

This document shines a light on the increasing demand for clean, safe water and sustainable energy, in particular from renewable sources, in Turkey. This article is aimed at: 

  • EU investors who wish to improve and expand upon their knowledge of water supply and renewable energy, both in Turkey and other similarly developed countries; 

  • Policymakers working to improve the structure of renewable energy systems; 

  • SMEs operating or with interest in the field of renewable energy or water distribution.


Levels 2 and 3 will provide you with deeper insight into the rapidly advancing requirement for water and energy in Turkey, as well as the best and most sustainable ways to meet such critical demands.

Physical Aspects of Managing Water & Generating Renewable Energy in Turkey

Water management has become a major concern for many countries including Turkey, which is situated in a semi-arid region and has only about one-fifth of the water available per capita in water rich regions such as North America and Western Europe3. During the last century, consumption of water and energy has been increasing rapidly on a global scale, a trend that is anticipated to continue in the decades to come. One of the reasons for the sudden increased demand is unplanned industrial activities which are deteriorating the environment, all in the name of raising the standard of living. 

Whilst Turkey’s geographical location does have several advantages for the exploitation of renewable energy resources, there is a large variation in annual precipitation, evaporation and surface run-off parameters. Precipitation is not evenly distributed enough throughout the country to meet present and anticipated needs. Whilst there are 25 hydrological basins in Turkey, the rivers often have irregular regimes and are often not a reliable water source. In order to combat this issue of increasing concern in Turkey where precipitation is generally limited to four or five months a year, water resource development projects have become indispensable for sustainable socio-economic development. In recent years Turkey has made great progress in projects on water resource development for domestic use, irrigation, flood control and power generation. The projects have enabled Turkey to save water from its brief seasons of rainfall to be used throughout the year. 

As for demand for energy and a lack of use of renewable energy sources, in recent years Turkey has made a real effort to boost production and accelerate energy efficiency in order to meet energy security and diversity goals. Since the previous IEA (International Energy Agency) in-depth review of Turkey in 2016, market reform and energy security have been guiding principles of the government’s energy policy. Rapid economic and population growth in the past two decades have not only driven strong growth in energy demand but also an increase in import dependency, especially for oil and gas. As a result, Turkey has highlighted the security of energy supply as one of the central pillars of its energy strategy, including efforts to expand oil and gas exploration and production. These efforts received a significant boost from the recent discovery of the giant Sakarya gas field in the Black Sea, to diversify oil and gas supply sources and infrastructure.


Governance Aspects of Managing Water & Generating Renewable Energy in Turkey

Turkey has had the fastest growing energy demand among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in the past two decades. In this period, Turkey also ranks second to China in the increase in electricity and natural gas demand in the world4. Whilst Turkey has a 74% import dependency to meet its energy demand, the versatile structure of Turkey's energy strategy and its energy import dependency brings international relations into prominence in this field. One of the main goals of Turkey's energy strategy is to diversify routes and resources to strengthen its energy supply security. The country also aims to contribute to regional and global energy security and become a regional trade center in energy5. The fundamental elements that constitute the international dimension of Turkey's energy strategy are:

  1. To ensure the diversification of routes and resources in the supply of oil and natural gas, taking into account the increasing demand and import dependency;

  2. To contribute to regional and global energy security;

  3. To be a regional trade centre in energy;

  4. To consider social and environmental impacts in the context of sustainable development in every phase of the energy chain;

  5. To increase the share of domestic and renewable energy in electricity production;

  6. To include nuclear power in its energy mix.


How can European SMEs get involved in the expansion of renewable energy in Turkey?

In the past, Turkey has been known for fostering a rather poor business environment; however this reputation has changed in recent years. Whilst Turkey’s business potential has been long recognised, governmental instability and a sense of immobility has limited the economic growth the country can achieve. Between 1994 and 2003, Turkish economic growth averaged 2.8%, and the economy experienced several severe crises. Turkey now appears to be on the verge of attaining its potential as one of Europe’s most dynamic economies.  Turkey’s economic potential, the youth of its population (27.2% aged below 14), and its geostrategic importance are the strengths which are unrivalled among other European candidate members striving for dynamic economies6.

SMEs dominate the Turkish business economy. Both TurSEFF (The Turkish Sustainable Energy Financing Facility) and CSEF (The Commercializing Sustainable Energy Finance project) were projects designed to target such businesses, to leverage their latent demand for Energy Efficiency (EE) services7. These projects addressed barriers to change, specifically commercial banks’ lack of familiarity with the financing of Renewable Energy (RE) and EE projects, and more broadly, SMEs’ lack of awareness of the benefits of RE and EE investments. The timing of the investments was also critical, as the investment plan responded to the new direction set out in the government’s Ninth National Development Plan to promote private sector activity by improving the business environment. 

The Ninth National Development Plan in Turkey, implemented by the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the United Nations System, detailed five strategic objectives encouraging Turkey to move closer to its National Vision and supporting SME involvement. The objectives, in summary, are as follows: 

  1. Increasing Competitiveness;

  2. Increasing Employment;

  3. Strengthening Human Development and Social Solidarity;

  4. Ensuring Regional Development;

  5. Increasing Overall Quality of the Business Environment. 

An example of a previous European Commission funded project in Turkey is project OPTIMASH (Optimizing gasification of high-ash content coals for electricity generation). Project OPTIMASH focused on optimizing the operating conditions of IGCC technology (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) based on high-ash coals. Gasification being the main conversion (and energy loss) step in the IGCC line, most R&D challenges are focused around the gasification technology. OPTIMASH aimed to optimize the efficiency and reliability of gasifiers fuelled with high-ash content coals, as a significant portion of the available coal in India and Turkey has a high ash content8. At present high ash coals are washed, to reduce the ash content and fired in boilers to produce electricity. Gasification offers the possibility to convert high ash coals in a combustible gas that can be combusted in Gas Turbines, improving overall energy efficiency which is required in Turkey to combat the ever-increasing energy demands. 

SMEs can become involved with Combating Energy & Water Demands through Innovation in Turkey by collaborating with local project leaders to meet the various objectives of the Ninth National Development Plan and continue to improve the Turkish business economy.

Last updated: 27.05.2022 - 09:45
Back to top