The Renewable Energy Conversation In The Middle East

For many years, the renewable energy conversation in the Middle East has been largely dominated by discussions on solar energy. With some of the highest solar exposure rates in the world, regions throughout the Middle East are home to some of the world’s largest solar farms (1).

However, in recent years, interest in geothermal potential for the Middle East has grown significantly, and now shows no signs of slowing down. Of the various Middle Eastern countries actively pursuing geothermal technology, namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, Turkey has secured a leading role in the development of geothermal capacity in the region.

According to Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, as of 2021, Turkey’s geothermal power generation has reached 1,613 MW, up from only 18 MW in 2002. “With this figure, Turkey has risen to the first place in Europe and the fourth place in the world in geothermal,” he says (2).

Turkey recently rang in the New Year by taking another substantial step towards the adoption of geothermal technology. On January 16, 2021, President Erdoğan and the Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Fatih Dönme, officially inaugurated three new geothermal power plants. The official opening of the Sanko Energy Salihli 2 and Salihli 3 geothermal plants, which have a combined 54.5 MW capacity, and the Maspo Ala-2 geothermal plant represent a significant milestone in Turkey’s renewable energy pursuit (3).

In late 2019, Ali Kindap, head of the Geothermal Power Plant Investors Association, told the Daily Sabah that “Turkey has a 30,000 MW geothermal capacity that can be exploited for heating, drying, and cooling processes, particularly in agricultural operations related to greenhouse activities.” He also highlighted that with this potential, Turkey could “easily rank third in the global listing of geothermal power. 

These numbers reflect just how far Turkey has already come, and just how far it can go. The ambitious pursuit of geothermal technology in Turkey helps pave the way for surrounding regions, as well as other countries around the world, to further explore and harness the globe’s existing geothermal potential. 2021 has already marked an exciting year for the global expansion of geothermal technology, and it’s only February. 

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