Turkey's priority in energy is to diversify sources in natural gas, electricity generation, nuclear and renewables, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak said Tuesday.
"More than half of our electricity generation is from gas. This can't be sustainable, so we changed this strategy," Albayrak said in his speech at IHS CERAWeek 2017 energy conference in Houston.
"We are aiming to diversify our natural gas portfolio in the following years," he added.
The minister noted that in the last 15 years, Turkey's GDP moved from $200 billion to over $800 billion, while public debt to GDP ratio shrunk from 80 percent in 2002 to currently around 30 percent.
"You have to invest in energy to meet this growth and your growth targets," he said.
"Turkey invested more than $75 billion in energy through this period ... Total installed electricity capacity moved from approximately 30,000 megawatts (MW) in 2002 to almost 80,000 MW right now," he added.
Turkey's average annual electricity growth, which is more than 6 percent, makes it the leading country in this respect within OECD, Albayrak said.
He emphasized that Turkey is investing largely in LNG and Floating Storage Regasification Units (FSRU), and has successfully moved from mostly coal use to consuming natural gas.
"We ended up having huge diversification in the last 10-15 years [in gas]. Today, in 78 cities out of 81, we have a gas infrastructure," he noted.
- Supply security is crucial
Turkey consumed close to 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas last year, while more than half of this came from a single source -- Russia.
"Instead of relying on specific sources, we are aiming on diversification right now. We need to increase supply security. This is crucial for the region, and for European markets as well," he said.
Albayrak also explained that energy projects in Turkey's geography are crucial for regional peace and stability.
"We are working towards bringing gas via pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to Turkey's internal market, and then to European markets," he said, and added that the project will serve supply security in the region and contribute to regional stability.
- 10 percent nuclear target in energy mix
"Our main target for 2023 is to focus on our internal strategic energy needs, while prioritizing Turkey's economic growth. We are highly dedicated to investing in energy infrastructure," he added.
Albayrak said nuclear energy will also play a significant role in diversifying Turkey's energy needs.
"Nuclear should be at least 10 percent of total electricity generation capacity," he said. "By 2023, the first reactor on our first nuclear plant will become operational, and the second plant's first reactor will be launched around 2025."
- 10,000 MW for solar and wind in 10 years
Turkey has a significant amount of resource potential in renewables, such as hydro, solar and wind, which will play a role in diversifying energy sources, the minister said.
While the cost of renewables significantly declined in recent years, Turkey's investments have also increased in these projects, he noted, adding "In 2016, we installed 1,400 megawatts in the system."
When complete, the Konya-Karapinar Renewable Energy Resources Area Project is expected to be one of the biggest solar farms in the world with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts.
"It will have a 15-year purchase guarantee without any currency risk. It is a very investment-friendly project," Albayrak said.
"In mid-summer, we are going to launch a solar and wind tender, with an additional 1,000 megawatts each. For the next 10 years, we are aiming for at least 10,000 megawatts each of solar and wind from private business initiatives," he added.
Albayrak said Turkey aims to have at least two-thirds of its energy portfolio from local energy resources, and invited investors to participate in the country's energy sector.
"In the last 15 years, most of the private investors made a significant return on top of their investments," he said.
"We created an investment-friendly environment that is financially feasible, in which investors, people, and the government win," he concluded.
By Ovunc Kutlu in Houston, Texas