From Washington To Istanbul

on August 17, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Energy markets are becoming increasingly international as companies in developed economies look overseas for potential innovation testing beds. Meanwhile, up and coming countries may be vying just as much for the valuable opportunities to leverage technology and jobs investment from abroad.

With 8% economic growth in 2010 alone, and double digit growth in the first half of 2011–much of it in the manufacturing sector–Turkey’s electrical grid is stretched thin, members of the US Embassy in Turkey’s commercial service division told AOL Energy. To meet the projected 6-8% future increase in electricity demand, the Turkish government is planning to install smart grid projects and partner that with 30% clean generation capacity by 2023, said the embassy’s Energy Business Leader Serdar Cetinkaya.

“Turkey remains largely dependent on imported gas,” the embassy’s Commercial Counselor Michael Lally told AOL Energy. The country’s only significant source of domestic power is lignite coal, which Lally said is being increasingly rejected due to environmental concerns.

“That’s why we’re leading an international trade mission,” he said. Besides renewable generation projects, the country is looking for coal gasification, energy efficiency and microturbine, cogeneration systems projects, he said.

Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Turkey already has strong partnerships with various European and Middle Eastern companies. But partnerships with US business in particular have proven fruitful, Lally said, and, as a US representative in Turkey, he hopes to continue growing that relationship.

GE may have paved the way when it announced on June 7 that it was partnering with eSolar and MetCap Energy Investments to build a utility-scale power plant that would combine integrated solar combined cycle (ISCC) technology with wind turbines to provide highly efficient hybrid power to Turkish customers. The plant is set to be fully operation by November 2015.

Though GE has been expanding its use of flexible gas turbines in the US, which can ultimately be partnered with renewables because they ramp up and down within minutes, the company has yet to build a plant using the same technology in the United States. The Turkish plant could allow the company time to test the technology first.

Read the full story on the GE hybrid power plant: After The Supercycle, GE Builds Toward Renewable Future.

Flexible gas plants may be critical for Turkey’s goals of 20,000 MW of wind capacity and 600 MW of geothermal power by 2023, and 600 MW of solar capacity by 2014. Ten years of power purchase guarantees as well as feed-in-tariffs for the first ten years of operation have already been put in place to provide incentives for growth.

Turkey’s greatest challenge may be adequate transmission lines as the bulk of demand is in the western half of the country while generation is mostly in the southeast, Lally said. He hopes US smart grid application companies follow GE in developing projects in Turkey. The proposed high percentage of renewable generation sources will require sophisticated demand-side management in order to ensure reliability, Cetinkaya said.

Cetinkaya said the governments envisions a national smart grid that will efficiently incorporate renewable energy to meet growing demand. Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) is already enforcing laws governing the country’s 21 distribution companies that will make a national grid possible.

“Because Turkey has really emerged as an important regional, and beyond regional, player it’s going to need really big power growth,” Lally said. American companies are more than welcome.

Photo Caption: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (right) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak during a meeting at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul on July 16, 2011.