Turkey -- the promised land of the energy from the sun

פורסם: 8 ביולי 2013, 12:40 על ידי: Sustainability Org   [ עודכן 8 ביולי 2013, 12:41 ]
by Al Gore, 8 July 2013

Al Gore (Photo: AP)
8 July 2013 /
A couple of weeks ago I had the amazing experience of meeting the future of Turkey.

Brilliant young leaders who have a vision for their country: a prosperous and secure Turkey -- safe from the threat of climate change and at the forefront of the low carbon economy.

They have understood what is at stake. And the stakes are extremely high since Turkey is one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth to the disruption of the global climate. Turkey's agricultural and water resources are already under stress and the country faces greater risks to economic development, agricultural production and tourism every day.

The good news is that Turkey has everything it needs to fight climate change and get ahead in the global race to low carbon prosperity. First and foremost, it is blessed with the energy of the sun: Turkey sees sunshine 7.2 hours per day on average, and even much more in the southern part of the country.

Turkey has already understood the power of the sun. Indeed, it stands as a global leader in solar heating of water, second only to China.

Electricity generation from solar power is, however, almost non-existent. Installed photovoltaic capacity per inhabitant is lower in Turkey than in far less sunny Finland! The government has set a target of 3,000 megawatts of solar power by 2023, about as much as the United Kingdom's current capacity. Even China and India are planning solar on an amazing scale. Only 0.21 percent of Turkey's land would need to host solar PV generation in order to meet 100 percent of Turkey's projected electricity needs in 2050.

Solar is the right way to go, from an environmental, economic and geopolitical perspective. Turkey is the second fastest growing economy after China and its energy demand is expected to double before 2020. Solar is becoming one of the most cost-competitive options since the prices of imported fossil fuels are rising while the costs of solar installations are decreasing fast and Turkey is currently dependent on foreign imports for three-quarters of its energy.

But despite all this, Turkey declared 2012 the “year of coal” with the objective of utilizing all its lignite and hard coal resources by 2023. Dozens of coal plants are being planned -- threatening Turkey's climate and the health and environment of its citizens through the air and water pollution that kills millions around the world. The plants in Turkey are particularly problematic since most of them are lignite, the dirtiest coal. Thus, if all the planned coal plants were built, Turkey's greenhouse gas emissions would grow by 75 percent. This makes no sense.

Concerns over climate change are shared by much more than the handful of young leaders I met during my visit to Turkey: As much as 96 percent of the population claim they have felt that the climate has changed over the last 20 years, according to a recent survey by IPSOS. A whole new generation of dynamic entrepreneurs is also willing to move to invest in low carbon technologies, as shown by the boom in wind power: From almost no wind farms in 2002, Turkey is projected to reach parity with Spain within a decade.

I witnessed in my own country how much the public rose up against coal: everywhere across the US grassroots movements are stopping coal plants. I see a similar trend possibly happening in Turkey: Huge waves of villagers and local populations, concerned about the health and wellbeing of their children and their communities as well as the global climate, opposing building coal plants in their neighborhoods. This is happening in many parts of Turkey already. For instance, in the town of Gerze, the local population has now blocked construction of new plants for years.

Turkey has everything it needs to drive a secure, clean, cost-effective and low carbon energy system. The sun and the wind can power Turkey to new opportunities and greater prosperity. I left Turkey with enormous hope. I have faith in the new generation of leaders, committed to build a prosperous and sustainable future for their country, to make their vision happen.

*Al Gore, former vice president and founder and chairman of the board of the Climate Reality Project

Source: todayszaman.com

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