Despite widely held promise, Türkiye’s first offshore wind auction in 2018 failed to catch light, with bidders scared off by heavy local content requirements and poor site preparation by authorities. With a new round now kicked off, it will soon be clear if lessons have been learned, writes Maria Holm Bohsen
It had all looked so promising for Türkiye’s offshore wind market. Anointed by most industry observers as a front-running ‘emerging’ market ahead of its flagship auction back in 2018, the country was aiming to get a first 1.2GW of projects into the water with an eye on more than quadrupling the plant capacity at sea by 2035.
There was good reason to believe the play would take wing: Türkiye has a long maritime industrial history and rich resources to harness across the Marmara, Aegean and Black seas, where winds gust at 7-9.5 meters per second and most of the 85GW of technical potential is within sight of major electricity demand centers in the west of the country.
Then the dream was over before it began, sunk by local content requirements perceived by developers to be too demanding and limited site preparation by the Turkish authorities ahead of the auction seen adding too much risk to the projects.
Türkiye’s Ministry of Energy & Natural Resources, which was counting on the local content-led strategy used in onshore wind to build a domestic supply chain which reached installed capacity of 12GW last year, was left with an empty auction house – and no choice but to postpone.
'Türkiye seems to have learned from the disappointing auction launch in 2018 that failed to attract any developers. But several high hurdles remain.'
Maria Holm Bohsen
Head of Research
That Türkiye’s offshore wind ambitions were nonetheless undimmed became plain last year when Ankara unveiled a target in its National Energy Plan from 2022 of 5GW of sea-based wind by 2035 – the same year the country is targeting having 74% renewables in its total electricity generation mix.
However, the challenges for a country where coal and natural gas still account for fat slices of the Turkish power pie, totaling 60% together, remain significant. And the government will have to go to some lengths to prove it has learned its lessons from the debacle five years ago.
Topmost, over-demanding local content requirements can take the wind out of an auction’s sails. Instead of jump-starting the sector at the first attempt these served only to trip up the market.
Second, site intelligence can be key: the absence of surveys and preparation of the development acreage up for auction in 2018 increased the uncertainty for would-be developers. After the ministry postponed the leasing, the government realized the need to de-risk projects and sharpen transparency for bidders before issuing new auction blocks.
Since the auction flop, cooperation with the EU, the Danish Energy Agency, and the World Bank – which has a Türkiye offshore wind roadmap underway – should be a real help in these matters.
And the coming multi-disciplinary surveys of three of the zones – in the Marmara and Aegean seas – as well as an analysis of optimal auction design, are promising portents for the coming auction.
Despite the reminted intentions and more developed plans for the leasing, there remain several high hurdles Türkiye will need to clear, including the lack of a full regulatory framework for offshore wind and current economic turbulence in a country with very high inflation rates and a historically low currency.
Interested in more information on the potential of Türkiye’s offshore wind market? At Aegir Insights, we recently published our subscriber-access market report on Türkiye with analysis of all the fundamentals needed to understand this market and the opportunities.
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This article was first published in Aegir Insights' offshore energy intelligence newsletter, Beaufort.
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