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Wind energy regulations to pit investors against Forestry Ministry  

Credit:  2 October 2013 /İSMAİL ALTUNSOY, İSTANBUL | Today's Zaman | www.todayszaman.com ~~

Upcoming regulations which the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs is currently working on have raised the concerns of wind energy investors, who claim that the new regulations will have a very adverse impact on the sector, claims which the ministry has refuted on the grounds that the regulations are based on environmental concerns and aim to improve the sector’s legal infrastructure.

If the draft regulations enter into force without any changes, they will introduce standards concerning the farming-out of lands for power plant investments, which will likely place new responsibilities on the firms that are investing money to establish them while imposing additional financial burdens. Furthermore, the regulations will bring about special provisions on the use of forested lands during the processes of establishing and operating such plants.

Wind energy has been made the top item on the government’s list of priorities as a source of clean energy, a viable tool to reduce the country’s external dependency and as an environmentally friendlier alternative to oil and natural gas. The government is encouraging companies to invest their money to tap into the country’s high wind energy potential.

According to recent data by the Turkish Electricity Production Company (TEİAŞ) and the Electricity Generation Holding Company (EÜAŞ), Turkey has an annual wind power potential of 48,000 megawatts. The capacity of established wind power plants is only around 3,000 megawatts and the share of these plants among Turkey’s total electricity generation is nearly 5 percent.

Sector representatives have often complained about the bureaucratic obstacles and problems stemming from sector regulations, hindering them from proceeding any further. Their latest concern is about the regulations that aim to organize the establishment of plants in forested areas.

The president of the Wind Energy Power Stations Investors Association (RESYAD), Salahattin Baysal, said wind is definitely an important domestic resource but it doesn’t mean much without the investments to tap into this resource. Baysal said domestic and foreign companies are extremely interested in investing money in this field but the new regulations pose the risk of deterring these investors. To him, the regulations will introduce many restrictions and additional impediments for such plants while raising the costs of establishment. “Above all, red tape is also increasing. The forests belong to us all, so how can we damage them? All we are opposing is the unnecessary increase in the number of procedures and the introduction of extra obstacles,” he told Today’s Zaman.

The ministry, however, claims that its main objective for the regulations that it is currently hammering out is the protection of the forests. Speaking to Today’s Zaman, an official from the ministry, who did not want to be named, said the forests are an asset of the country and belong to the entire nation and thus need to be protected.

“No can invest anywhere they like. The regulations will bring greater discipline to these investments. One investor approaches us, demanding an area which is far larger than what a power plant would require. Another wants a much smaller area for a plant of the same size. Thus we felt that there must be standards for this. I want to further stress that we are getting opinions from the sector as well,” he said.

Source:  2 October 2013 /İSMAİL ALTUNSOY, İSTANBUL | Today's Zaman | www.todayszaman.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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