Bares wind farm helps solve energy riddle in Turkey

By Mike McDonough

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Turkey’s energy conundrum goes like this: How do you satisfy a rapidly-growing demand for electricity without increasing your reliance on expensive energy imports or putting an excessive burden on the environment?

A windswept corner of rural western Turkey holds part of the answer. Fifty-two wind turbines strung along a series of hilltops close to the city of Balikesir constitute the biggest wind farm in the country.

Capable of producing 143 megawatts of power, the EBRD-financed Bares wind farm will boost the amount of electricity generated by wind in Turkey by 8 per cent. Producing that amount of power from fossil-fuel based alternatives would create 317,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year, which is equivalent to the emissions of 75,000 cars.

“The energy that Bares produces can provide clean electricity to about 170,000 households,” says Nandita Parshad, the EBRD’s Director for Power and Energy. “That reduces Turkey’s need for costly imported resources, enhances its energy security and brings it closer to its renewable energy targets.”

Bares, which officially opened on 11 May, was built with the help of a €135 million syndicated loan arranged by the EBRD. It is owned by Enerjisa, the leading private energy company in Turkey. Enerjisa is itself a joint venture between Sabanci Holding, a Turkish conglomerate, and E.ON, the German electricity giant.

With its fast-expanding population and growing economy, Turkey is expected to see electricity consumption rise by 6-7 per cent a year over the next decade. In response, the country has set itself a target of installing 10 gigawatts of wind capacity by 2020. Currently, Turkey’s electricity market is dominated by gas (46 per cent of production), hydropower (25 per cent) and coal (25 per cent), with the remainder coming from oil, wind and geothermal sources.

Bares is the second major wind farm financed by the EBRD in Turkey. In 2009, the Bank provided a €45 million loan to help finance the construction of a 135 megawatts wind farm near Osmaniye in the south of the country. Until Bares opened, that was the biggest wind farm in Turkey in terms of generation capacity.

The EBRD invests heavily in renewable energy throughout its countries of operations. In addition to Turkey, it has financed wind farms in Poland, Mongolia, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Estonia. In Turkey alone, the renewable energy produced by EBRD-financed generators can light homes for 4 million people.

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