Summer in Turkey, where it seems the sun never stops shining, is a solar enthusiast's dream come true. And in the country side, as well as in the city, people are taking advantage of the sun's rays.
At the moment, the greatest use of solar energy is in solar thermal systems for heating water. Everywhere you look, you see the cylindrical drums and panels dotting the rooftops of homes across the country. For bigger systems, such as needed for a hotel, these older systems are being replaced with more sophisticated solar water systems, where the centralized tank is not visible and only the solar collector (or panels) is visible on the roof, making for a more streamlined appearance.
More and more though, solar photovoltaic systems are also being used to produce electricity. In a country heavily reliant on coal plants, solar energy is a welcome alternative. For some time now, Turks who are off the grid or frustrated with the fluctuating current in their area, have been installing PV systems to meet their personal needs, whether it be for their home or for providing power at a roadside fruit and vegetable stand.
There is a great case to be made that solar energy is the way forward in Turkey, not just at the small-scale residential level, but a commercial level as well. In Bodrum, a sunny resort town in southern Turkey on the Aegean Sea, the Solar Score is 76. By comparison, San Francisco and Los Angeles in California have solar scores of 75 and 81 respectively. In sunny Spain, Madrid has a solar score of 61 (further south in Almeria, a major European research and development center in solar research, the solar score is 66).
According to the Gunese Association, an association of photovoltaic producers in Turkey, investments in solar energy projects are expected to reach EUR 500 million by 2015. Already, new favorable legislation has helped to bring in license applications for 8900 megawatts of capacity and manufacturers, such as China Sunergy Company, have moved in to produce PV modules and cells locally.
Clearly, the sun is shining brightly in Turkey and the future includes solar energy, a renewable that makes sense in this part of the world.