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Cheaper Coal Could Make Turkey Europe’s Largest Coal-Burning Nation

Cheaper coal compared to natural gas is set to make Turkey the biggest coal-burning nation in Europe this year, surpassing Germany, according to data by environmental think tank Ember cited by Reuters’ analyst Gavin Maguire.

Runaway inflation in Turkey and the devaluation of the Turkish lira in recent years have raised the amount of money the country needs to spend to import fuels, including LNG and natural gas.

Turkey’s LNG imports dropped in 2023 by 8.2% compared to the previous year and stood at their lowest level since before the pandemic in 2019, per Kpler vessel-tracking data cited by Reuters.  

As a result, Turkey has raised its coal-fired electricity output in the past two years, while the previous top two coal power users, Germany and Poland, have scaled back electricity generation from coal as the share of renewables has risen and as the two EU members look to cut emissions.

Turkey, however, is estimated to have generated a record 117.6 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity from coal last year, which also raised its emissions to a record of 118 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, per Ember’s data cited by Reuters’ Maguire.

If this trend continues, Turkey is expected to top Germany this year as the largest coal power generator in Europe, according to forecasts.

The share of imported coal in Turkey’s power generation jumped from 7% in 2010 to as much as 20% in 2022, per Ember’s data.

The think tank also said in a report last month that Turkey has the technical potential to install 120 gigawatts (GW) of solar power rooftops—close to ten times its current installed solar capacity.

Potential generation from 120 GW of rooftop capacity can cover 45% of Turkey’s 2022 electricity consumption, Ember’s study found.  

Expanding clean power “will play a critical role in the economy by mitigating the EU carbon border levy’s impact on Turkish exports, and will underpin development efforts by providing people with the opportunity to produce their own electricity,” the think tank’s analysts Ufuk Alparslan and Azem Yildirim wrote.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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