Turkey outpaced the world average in electricity generation from wind and solar in 2020, according to data compiled by Anadolu Agency from the Global Electricity Review 2021 report of London-based think-tank, Ember on Monday.

Turkey generated 12% of its electricity from wind and solar in 2020 relative to the world average of 9.4%.

Turkey’s total electricity generation stood at 302 terawatt-hours (TWh) last year with demand at 301.5 TWh, marking a 0.6% increase compared to 2019.

The share of all renewable sources stood at 43% of the country’s power generation, with coal and gas accounting for 34% and 23%, respectively.

The share of clean energy sources out of global electricity generation last year, including nuclear, was 39%, while coal was 34%.

Turkey was placed above the global average with wind and solar comprising 12% of its electricity last year, and the country ranked fifth out of G20 countries for the share of wind and solar production, ahead of the US and France.

Wind and solar electricity generation in Turkey increased by 15%, or 5 TWh in 2020 and installed capacity grew by 2 gigawatts (GW) to reach just under 16 GW.

Wind, in particular, showed strong growth with 1.2 GW of additional installed capacity in 2020, doubling the amount installed in 2019 and reaching a total of 9 GW.

However, the amount of additional solar capacity installed in 2020 was down 28% compared to 2019.

Turkey needs to maintain the growth in wind generation and escalate investment in solar power to increase the share of clean power, the report revealed.

Hydro production fell 12%, or 11 TWh year-on-year due to lower rainfall and because 2019 was a record year for renewables, with hydroelectricity generation up by 10%.

The report said that generation last year at the three largest hydroelectric plants, Ataturk, Karakaya and Keban, was twice that seen in 2019 compared to 2018 due to above-average seasonal rainfall and snowfall.

The drought in Turkey that followed in the second half of 2020 allowed a recovery in fossil gas generation with a 25% increase, or 13 TWh year-on-year, representing the highest annual fossil gas gain among G20 countries.

Coal generation falls by 6% in 2020

Last year, total electricity generation from coal dropped by 6%. This was mostly because five lignite plants had to cease operations in early 2020, as they did not make the necessary upgrades to comply with environmental regulations.

This brought a drop of 18% in lignite-fired electricity generation.

In Turkey, 1.6 GW of additional capacity was under construction in 2020 while 12.4 GW of proposed capacity was canceled, according to the report.

Wind and solar generation in Turkey more than tripled since 2015

The world’s wind and solar share of production have doubled from 2015 to 2020 by comparison while Turkey’s has “impressively” tripled, according to the report.

Turkey’s overall renewable power generation has overtaken coal four-fold since 2015, however, the last two years showed the highest margin at 9%.

Before 2015, renewables output was never higher than fossil fuels combined but in 2019 and 2020 the gap between them substantially dropped. ​​​​​​​

While renewable sources accounted for 33% of electricity generation in 2015, in 2020 they reached 43%, showing a greater uptake than the world average.

Wind and solar increased their share of total generation from around 4% in 2015 to 12% in 2020 with a growth of 23 TWh.

Wind and solar take market share from gas

In line with the global trend, renewable electricity, particularly hydro, displaced fossil gas rather than coal. Electricity generation from natural gas plants fell by around 15% since 2015 but recovered in 2020 as hydro generation returned to normal levels of 26% due to the drought.

The share of natural gas in power generation was 37% in 2015, but fell to about 23% in 2020.

The dominance of gas over renewables is not expected to return to 2015 levels if wind and solar continue their steady growth, Ember said.

Although Turkey’s coal generation showed a decrease of 6% last year, it has grown by 39%, or 28 TWh overall, since 2015.

Turkey is one of the three G20 countries where coal’s share of production has increased during this period, the others being Indonesia and Russia.

Coal accounted for 29% of electricity generation in 2015 but this rose to 34% in 2020, with an increase of 4 GW in installed capacity over this period. Turkey’s electricity demand, which is 1.5 times the global average per capita, grew steadily by 15% since 2015.

According to the report, Turkey has the largest pre-construction pipeline in Europe for new coal-fired plants and ranks third globally behind China and India.

This equates to 18 GW and 23 plants but it is highly unlikely that the majority of these plants will be commissioned as around 80 coal projects have been canceled in Turkey over the last decade.

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