Half of Turkey’s open-cast coal mines are suitable for conversion to solar farms, shows Europe Beyond Coal’s new report. If locations are utilized, the country’s solar capacity could be boosted by 170% and cover the power demand equivalent to 6.9 million homes per year.
Turkey has recently ratified the Paris Agreement and set a net-zero emissions goal. Mines could play a key role in decarbonizing energy systems and tackling climate crises. Part of the solution is hiding in plain sight, the report revealed.
Solar power with a total installed capacity of 13,189 MW can be built in areas that are suitable for the transition. A total of 19,079 GWh a year electricity would be produced from these solar installations.
Converting half of Turkey’s open-cast coal mines into homes for solar power plants would reduce CO2 emissions by 12.4 million tons per year.
The country has announced that it aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2053
To meet climate targets, Turkey needs to begin with decarbonizing its economy and increasing the share of solar power in the energy mix. The country announced that it aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2053.
“This study confirms that countries with large open-cast coal mines should be viewing them as renewable energy transition assets. They have a cost advantage over virgin plots as they come equipped with much of the necessary infrastructure to host solar installations. When you kit them out with advanced battery storage systems, they’re able to consistently deliver a base load of cheap, clean, fossil-free energy,” said Bahadır Turhan, Chairman of the Board at Solar3GW, which produced the report.
Transforming coal sites
The Solar Potential of Coal Sites in Turkey report shows that approximately half of the country’s open-cast coal mines are suitable for conversion to solar farms. They would scale up the solar capacity by 170 percent and produce 19 TWh of electricity to power 6.9 million homes.
“That’s equivalent to a third of the electricity Turkey produced from hard coal and imported coal in 2021. Turkey is a sleeping solar giant! We really need to wake up to this potential,” said Barış Eceçelik, Board Member at Ekosfer Association.
Eceçelik: Turkey is a sleeping solar giant
Delivering on these targets will benefit health and the economy transitioning to a fossil-free, fully renewables-based energy sector. These solar installations can attract new investors and manufacturing industries, minimizing economic hits in the regions caused by the closure of the coal mines, notes in the paper.
“One-fourth of Turkey’s total greenhouse gas emissions originate from coal, leading to premature deaths and exacerbating the climate crisis. If we are sincere in being net-zero by 2053, we must urgently plan the exit from coal,” said Tanyeli Behiç Sabuncu, Climate and Energy Program Manager at WWF Turkey.
The focus of the transition should be on the protection of the ecosystems and the involvement of local people
The country has excellent potential for solar projects; the focus in this transition should be on the protection of the ecosystems and the involvement of local people in the decision-making processes. Study shows that local people could benefit from new solar projects, and community ownership schemes should be prioritized.