Spotlight on Turkey – Powering Future Urban Energy Needs

Daniel Kerr from the UCL Energy Institute on a recent conference in the urban energy sphere and how its main points relate to the SAMSET project.

On the 5th March 2014, 25 academics, government officials and representatives of industry and NGOs gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, to discuss the challenges facing Turkey’s cities in terms of energy supply and urban sustainability. This roundtable event sought to shed light on the problems facing urban metropolitan areas globally that are struggling with transportation congestion, secure and clean energy supply, and securing the future of a clean and liveable urban environment.

With 14 million inhabitants, Istanbul is the largest city in Europe. However, energy demand in the city and more widely in Turkey is growing at a rate more comparable to that of much of Asia. Urbanisation efforts in the country have contributed to a very high electricity demand growth rate, and as with many urbanising areas globally, supply is struggling to keep pace with demand. A number of options were proposed at this roundtable in order to combat the future urban energy challenges in the country. The increased need for energy efficiency considerations in urban planning, and increasing energy efficiency was agreed as a key step in managing demand in the country.

A number of panellists raised the fact that urbanisation and development as a means of alleviating poverty can be at odds with the race against climate change and environmental degradation. The potential of decentralised power generation in urban areas was highlighted, in terms of distributed renewable energy in the form of solar, solar thermal etc., but also high-efficiency conventional-fuel generation such as through combined heat and power plants.

Despite being a more developed economy than a number of sub-Saharan African countries, the challenges facing urbanisation in Turkey are relevant globally, and to the SAMSET project. Transport growth and transportation congestion, as well as severe demand growth not backed by supply-side growth, are both factors facing sub-Saharan African cities, and the lessons learned from this roundtable event will have relevance to the urban areas targeted in the project.

More information on the Istanbul roundtable can be found on the Energy Collective website:

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