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Turkey's Energy Sector Looking To Supply Developing World

Oil tankers in Istanbul
Oil tankers in Istanbul
Gila Benmayor

ISTANBUL - Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, has offered some notable insights into the future of global energy markets. His presentation of the “World Energy Outlook 2012” report that focused on "energy efficiency" will undoubtedly be studied closely by the Turkish Industry & Business Association (TÜSÄ°AD).

But to better understand Turkey's particular situation, it is worth focusing on the recent presentation of Murat Mercan, the Deputy Minister of Energy, who outlined the country's energy vision for the future.

Here are the core points that stood out to me during the presentation:

-Turkey’s demand for energy will nearly double by 2030, rising from 53,000 to 100,000 megawatts.

-This growth will largely be pushed by demand from the private sector.

-For Turkey to be a part of the world’s largest 10 economies by 2023, the public energy authorities and private sector must work hand-in-hand.

-In the next 20 years, Turkey will be home to key new infrastructure, including pipelines, ports, shipping services; the country will boost its own dynamic petrol and natural gas sectors.

-Turkey’s lignite and bituminous coal reserves will play a major role in boosting the economy.

-By 2023, electricity production will be divided into four units. Some 30 percent will be produced from natural gas; 30 percent will come from coal; another 30 percent will come from renewable sources and 10 percent will be nuclear. Mercan highlighted that entering the “nuclear league” is a necessity, not a fantasy.

Global warming

While Mercan outlined Turkey’s energy vision, he reminded the audience that 1.3 billion people in the world live without electricity. As part of its energy goals, Turkey will help supply regions in undeveloped countries with strong energy channels and resources.

“We will support countries in Africa, such as Somalia and Nigeria, and help them lay foundations for more channels,” Mercan told me.

Still, a key factor in Turkey’s energy vision, which was not emphasized in Mercan’s presentation, was energy efficiency and global warming.

IEA chief Birol, raised the issue highlighting that with current policies in place, average global temperatures are set to increase by six degrees Celsius -- which could have catastrophic implications. “If as of 2017 there is not a start of a major wave of new and clean investments, the door to two degrees will be closed,” he said.

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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