As Turkey seeks to capitalize on green energy projects, those looking to build in the wind-energy sector face several environmental and procedural hurdles. Building the foundations for wind energy in the country is a ‘special process,’ as a representative from one of Turkey’s largest wind energy companies puts it. Environmentalists and community-based organizations, despite generally being in favor of these endeavors, at times have radically different opinions from renewable energy advocates
As Turkey seeks to capitalize on green energy projects, those looking to build in the wind-energy sector face several environmental and procedural hurdles. As prospective developers in this sector have discovered, the overall costs of implementing a large-scale renewable energy project extend far beyond installation, a problem evident in the need to construct access roads in western Turkey.
In Turkey, the wind energy sector is a fairly new sector, only gaining prominence in the last 30 years. Building the foundations for wind energy in the country is a “special process,” as a representative from one of Turkey’s largest wind energy companies puts it.
According to the representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, every wind energy project in Turkey requires new access roads, due to the difficult terrain that is generally present in suitable wind farm locations. Most wind farms are often built on top of hills or in mountainous regions, largely inaccessible by roads.
“The main roads mainly have to be re-built, particularly if there are many curves, a major infrastructure obstacle for wind turbine transport, since the trucks are not able to make sharp turns,” according to the representative. “Turkey is not like Germany, where most wind farms are built near highways, and where the land is flat. Roads must be built, since none exist in these areas, and more specifically they must be built to sustain heavy and large loads.”
Environmentalists and community-based organizations, despite generally being in favor of these endeavors, at times have radically different opinions from renewable energy advocates. Local communities in particular may not always be so keen on the construction of service roads for wind turbines in their regions. Tasked with not only creating a renewable energy plant but also an infrastructure system, public and private authorities need to calculate the environmental and financial costs of these infrastructure schemes. This is why in Turkey, where investors are aware of this problem, wind energy companies generally anticipate access roads costs in their projected costs.
Mustafa Ataseven, chairman of the Turkish Wind Energy Association, says service road construction in Turkey can be carried out in two ways.
“Investors can make a contract with a Turkish company that then directly interacts with the various sub-contractors and construction companies. However, if the investor is able to finance the costs without any credit, they can directly make a deal with sub-contractors,” Ataseven told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
In both cases, the Turkish construction sector benefits from these contracts.
Ataseven said it is mostly local companies that are the ones constructing access roads, either as a sub-contractor or as an investor.
However, access roads are not only a financial consideration. They also can affect the local environment and the local population. Accordingly, wind energy developers must consult with local authorities, NGOs and other stakeholders when planning and constructing a wind farm.
A representative of Aksa, a Turkish power generation company with three wind farms in Turkey, said his company’s wind farms had to account for building access roads in the mountains and forests, steps that were “necessary for the projects.”
Aksa was also required to consult with the Ministry of Environment during the planning process of its wind farms.
“We are obliged by the Ministry of Environment to prepare documentation for local communities on the specifics of the project, which can take between five and six months on average,” the representative told the Daily News.
At the Turkish Wind Energy Association, Ataseven said the process of building service roads has not been disruptive to local communities.
“The local construction business is good in Turkey. As you know, Turkey is second in the world in the construction business,” he said.
According to Ataseven, since investors often employ local construction companies to construct these service roads, the locals benefit from wind farm schemes.
“They use local construction companies, and these companies know their people. They have good relations with the local population,” he said.
The wind energy sector, it seems, has thus far avoided the problems associated with Turkish hydropower schemes, where local villagers, particularly in Turkey’s Black Sea region, have often been grossly dissatisfied with the way energy was being generated at their expense. With wind still in its infancy, the jury is still out on whether it is worth the money, and worth all the asphalt.
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