The Çetin Dam hydropower plant is Turkey’s largest embankment dam.

Turkey grows hydroelectric capacity

Turkey added over 1 GW of hydroelectric power in 2018, making it the fastest growing producer of hydroelectric power in Europe. Contributing to that growth is the Çetin Dam hydropower plant, located in the southeast of the country. With an installed capacity of 420 MW, the site is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2020.
 
^ The Çetin Dam hydropower plant is Turkey’s largest embankment dam.

Article By Daniel Sweet
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The Çetin Dam hydropower project is located on the Botan River in southeastern Turkey. The Botan River, which eventually joins up with the Tigris River, is well established as a candidate for hydropower projects: two dams are already in operation on the waterway, with 3 more in planning phases.

Çetin Dam is a roller-compacted concrete body embankment dam, with a volume exceeding 4.7 million m3. With an installed capacity of 420 MW, the Çetin Dam is the largest hydropower project along the Botan waterway, and the largest embankment dam in Turkey. It also stands as the largest roller-compacted concrete dam in Europe, with a height of 165m.

The resulting water backup has created a 615 million m3 reservoir of water behind the dam. As this water is released from the reservoir and fed into the dam’s power generating facilities, four vertical axis Francis turbine-generators located in the dam’s power plant will produce 135 MW of electricity per turbine, excepting one, which will generate 15 MW.

The Norwegian conglomerate Statkraft, in association with the Turkish General Directorate of Electrical Power Resources Survey and Development Administration, funded the project at a cost of USD 678 million. 

Construction on the main dam began in December 2011 and the power plant was first expected to be complete in 2015, with a planned capacity of 401 MW.

As of September 2019, construction was 84% complete, and according to a Turkish government website, “at this time, as much as 15,000 m3 of concrete was poured onto the structure everyday.”

Construction finalized in January 2020, and the dam began to impound water. The first two units of the power station started generating electricity in April 2020, and the two remaining units are expected to be commissioned by the end of 2020.

Turkish hydropower

Turkey is the second largest producer of hydropower in Europe, behind Norway, with an installed capacity of 28,358MW. 

According to the International Hydropower Association, Turkey’s investment in hydroelectricity is a reflection of their greater political aspirations.

“As part of its potential accession to the EU, Turkey has integrated its electricity infrastructure with that of Europe, while at the same time pursuing a strategy of overall energy diversification, including the development of all types of renewable energy.

Furthermore, electricity demand in Turkey is forecast to grow by more than 90 per cent over the next ten years, adding to the suite of drivers for hydropower development.”

This increased development has led to long-term planning that aims for a total 100 GW of installed electric power capacity by 2023.

Further from the International Hydropower Association: “The country is pushing ahead with its formidable goal to exploit all of its estimated 166,000 GWh/year of economical hydropower potential, which would include an expected total of about 24,000 hydropower plants.”

To date, roughly 50 per cent of this potential has been tapped, with a further 15 per cent under construction, leaving the country with some way to go in achieving its target. At the end of 2014, Turkey’s installed hydropower capacity was 23.6 GW, producing 40,400 GWh/year of electricity.

According to Hydro Review, the government of Turkey is working towards this goal through hydrofriendly policies: “the government has introduced policies aimed at diversifying the energy supply sector by supporting domestic sources in particular, in a bid to curb the share of natural gas to lower than 30% of total demand.

As part of this policy, renewables, including hydropower, have been the beneficiaries of feed-in tariffs to encourage their development. In the case of hydropower projects beginning operations before the end of 2015, the feed-in tariff is US$ cent 7.3/kWh (€cent 5.6/kWh) with an additional ‘local-content’ bonus of US$ cent 1-2.3/kWh (€cent 0.7-1.8/kWh) which is payable for 10 years, with the local content bonus available for five years.”

Additional reporting from the International Hydropower Association notes that “in early 2015, the Turkish Government announced it would allocate USD 16 billion to hydro development until 2018 as part of its Tenth Development Plan. In addition, deregulation of the power sector has encouraged private investment, with independent power producers taking on the bulk of new developments.”

In the world

Today, the world’s top 5 largest power stations are hydroelectric facilities, and according to the International Hydropower Association’s 2020 Status Report, hydroelectric generation hit a record 4,306 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2019, representing the single greatest contribution from a renewable energy source in history.

Nonetheless, 800GW of hydroelectric capacity must be added by 2040 to reach targets set out by the Paris Agreement (Hydropower.org), and based on recent estimates, “current capacity growth trends are not sufficient to place hydropower generation fully on track to reach the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) level” (International Energy Association). For this reason, investment in hydroelectric power projects is needed in the coming years in order to facilitate a successful transition to clean energy.
 

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