The Turkish energy story is an enigma: Despite a bourgeoning energy demand, an abundant renewable energy potential and some initial progress in setting ambitious targets and designing a rudimentary legal and regulatory framework for renewables, Turkey is still not close to realizing its vast potential in wind, solar and geothermal; the share of non-hydro renewables in the overall energy mix has not reached any meaningful levels. There are significant delays and hurdles in project development, uncertainties about the sustainability of support mechanisms, and aggressive campaigns to accelerate fossil fuel production. This chapter analyzes Turkey’s mixed clean energy performance by mapping out the different political, economic, and geostrategic interests of domestic and external stakeholders, the changing coalitions over time as well as the institutional structure in which energy politics plays out. I argue that the limited policy reforms to increase the share of renewables in Turkey have been crisis-induced, externally conditioned, and politically expedient in an increasingly centralized institutional structure. The Turkish case is an example of a contradictory and somewhat reluctant state-led energy transition where the pace and nature of renewable energy reforms are driven less by societal and business pressures but more by the distributive, populist, and geostrategic calculations of the governing elite to stay in power.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Arsel, Murat. “Reflexive Developmentalism? Toward an Environmental Critique of Modernization.” In Environmentalism in Turkey: Between Democracy and Development, edited by Fikret Adaman and Murat Arsel, 29–48. London: Ashgate, 2005.
Arsel, Murat, Bengi Akbulut and Fikret Adaman. “Environmentalism of the Malcontent: Anatomy of an Anti-Coal Power Plant Struggle in Turkey.” Journal of Peasant Studies 42, no. 2 (2015): 371–395.
Atiyas, Izak, Tamer Cetin and Gurcan Gulen. Reforming Turkish Energy Markets: Political Economy, Regulation and Competition in the Search for Energy Policy. Springer, 2012.
Aydin, Cem Iskender. “Nuclear Energy Debate in Turkey: Stakeholders, Policy Alternatives, and Governance Issues.” Energy Policy 136 (2020): 111041.
Bakir, Caner and Ziya Onis. “The Regulatory State and Turkish Banking Reforms in the Age of Post-Washington Consensus.” Development and Change 41, no. 1 (2010): 77–106.
Baumgartner, Frank. R and Bryan D. Jones. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Baumgartner, Frank R., Brian D. Jones and P. B. Mortensen. “Punctuated Equilibrium Theory: Explaining Stability and Change in Public Policymaking.” In Theories of the Policy Process, edited by C. M. Weible and P. A. Sabatier, 59–103. Routledge, 2014.
Bayulgen, Oksan. “Two-Steps Forward, One-Step Back: How Politics Dim the Lights on Turkey’s Renewable Energy Future.” Perceptions 18, no. 4 (2013): 71–98.
Biddle, Jesse and Vedat Milor. “Economic Governance in Turkey: Bureaucratic Capacity, Policy Networks, and Business Associations.” In Business and the State in Developing Countries, edited by Sylvia Maxfield and Ben Ross Schneider, 277–310. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997.
Bilgin, Mert. “Turkey’s Energy Strategy: Synchronizing Geopolitics and Foreign Policy with Energy Security.” Insight Turkey 17, no. 2 (2015): 67–81.
Biresselioglu, Mehmet E., Melike Demirbag Kaplan and Evrim Ozyorulmaz. “Towards a Liberalized Turkish Natural Gas Market: A SWOT Analysis.” Energy Sources, Part B: Economics, Planning and Policy 14, no. 2 (2019): 25–33.
Calder, Kent E. The New Continentalism: Energy and Twenty-First Century Eurasian Geopolitics. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.
Carafa, Luigi. “How Far Does the European Union Influence Turkey’s Energy Sector Reform?” Italian Political Science Association 24th Annual Conference. Venice, 16–18 September 2010.
Demiryol, Tolga. “The Geopolitics of Energy Cooperation Between Turkey and The European Union.” L’Europe En Formation 1, no. 367 (2013): 109–134.
Erensu, Sinan. “Powering Neoliberalization: Energy and Politics in the Making of New Turkey.” Energy Research and Social Science 41 (2018): 148–157.
Erensu, Sinan. “Turkey’s Hydropower Renaissance: Nature, Neoliberalism and Development in the Cracks of Infrastructure.” In Neoliberal Turkey and Its Discontents: Economic Policy and the Environment Under Erdogan, edited by Fikret Adaman, Bengi Akbulut and Murat Arsel, 120–146. London: I.B. Tauris, 2017.
Erensu, Sinan. Fragile Energy: Power, Nature and the Politics of Infrastructure in the New Turkey. Dissertation submitted to University of Minnesota, 2016.
Ersen, Emre and Mitat Celikpala. “Turkey and the Changing Energy Geopolitics of Eurasia.” Energy Policy 128 (2019): 584–592.
International Energy Agency (IEA). Energy Policies of IEA Countries: Turkey 2016 Review. Paris, 2016. https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/EnergyPoliciesofIEACountriesTurkey.pdf.
International Energy Agency (IEA). World Energy Balances: Turkey 2019. Paris, 2019. https://www.iea.org/countries/turkey.
Jewell, Jessica and Seyithan Ahmet Ates. “Introducing Nuclear Power in Turkey: A Historic State Strategy and Future Prospects.” Energy Research and Social Science 10 (2015): 273–282.
Karapin, Roger. Political Opportunities for Climate Policy: California, New York, and the Federal Government. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Kaygusuz, Kamil and Murat Arsel. “Energy Politics and Policy.” In Environmentalism in Turkey: Between Democracy and Development, edited by Fikret Adaman and Murat Arsel, 149–167. London: Ashgate, 2005.
Kibaroglu, Mustafa. “Turkey’s Quest for Peaceful Nuclear Power.” The Nonproliferation Review Spring–Summer (1997): 33–44.
Kumbaroglu, Gurkan. “Turkiye Acisindan Nukleer Enerji Ekonomisi.” In Nukleer Enerjiye Geciste Turkiye Modeli, edited by Sinan Ulgen, 82–107. Istanbul: EDAM (Ekonomik ve Dis Politika Arastirmalar Merkezi, 2012.
Kuyucu, Tuna. “Two Crises, Two Trajectories: The Impact of the 2001 and 2008 Economic Crises on Urban Governance in Turkey.” In Neoliberal Turkey and Its Discontents: Economic Policy and the Environment Under Erdogan, edited by Fikret Adaman, Bengi Akbulut and Murat Arsel, 44–74. London: I.B. Tauris, 2017.
Livingston, David. “Renewable Energy Investments in Turkey: Between Aspiration and Endurance.” Turkish Policy Quarterly 17, no. 3(2018): 55–67.
Marschall, Melissa, Abdullah Aydogan and Alper Bulut. “Does Housing Create Votes? Explaining the Electoral Success of the AKP in Turkey.” Electoral Studies 42 (2016): 201–212.
Ocakli, Feryaz. “Reconfiguring State-Business Relations in Turkey: Housing and Hydroelectric Energy Sectors in Comparative Perspective.” Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies 20, no. 4 (2018): 373–387.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Turkey 2019.” OECD Environmental Performance Reviews. Paris: OECD Publishing, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264309753-en.
Onis, Ziya. “The Triumph of Conservative Globalism: The Political Economy of the AKP Era.” Turkish Studies 13, no. 2 (2012): 135–152.
Onis, Ziya and Mustafa Kutay. “Rising Powers in a Changing Global Order: The Political Economy of Turkey in the Age of BRICS.” Third World Quarterly 34, no. 8 (2013): 1409–1426.
Ozcan, Gul B. and Umut Gunduz. “Energy Privatizations, Business-Politics Connections and Governance Under Political Islam.” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 33 (2015): 1714–1737.
Ozel, Isik. “The Politics of De-delegation: Regulatory (In)Dependence in Turkey.” Regulation and Governance 6, no. 1 (2012): 119–129.
Ozveren, Eyup and Selin Efsan Nas. “Economic Development and Environmental Policy in Turkey: An Institutionalist Critique.” Cambridge Journal of Economics 36 (2012): 1245–1266.
Paker, Hande. “The ‘Politics of Serving’ and Neoliberal Developmentalism: The Megaprojects of the AKP as Tools of Hegemony Building.” In Neoliberal Turkey and Its Discontents: Economic Policy and the Environment Under Erdogan, edited by Fikret Adaman, Bengi Akbulut and Murat Arsel, 103–119. London: I.B. Tauris, 2017.
Sahin, Umit. “Country Perspective: Turkey.” In The End of Nuclear Energy? International Perspectives After Fukushima, edited by N. Netzer and J. Steinhilber, 71–74. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2011.
Sahin, Umit, ed. Coal Report: Turkey’s Coal Policies Related to Climate Change, Economy, and Health. Istanbul Policy Center Report. Sabanci University, 2016. https://ipc.sabanciuniv.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Coal-Report-Turkeys-Coal-Policies-Related-to-Climate-Change-Economy-and-Health.pdf.
Saygin, Deger, Max Hoffman and Phillip Godron. “How Turkey Can Ensure a Successful Energy Transition.” Center for American Progress, July 10, 2018. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/reports/2018/07/10/453281/turkey-can-ensure-successful-energy-transition/.
Timperley, Jocelyn. “The Carbon Brief Profile: Turkey.” CarbonBrief (May 3, 2018). https://www.carbonbrief.org/carbon-brief-profile-turkey.
US Energy Information Agency (EIA). Country Analysis Brief: Turkey. Washington, DC, 2017. https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/analysis.php?iso=TUR.
Waheed, Ayesha K., Ekin Erdogan and Erdogan Fidan. “Turkish Renewable Energy: Blowing in the Right Direction?” IP Opinion, February 24, 2009, http://www.lw.com/upload/pubContent/_pdf/pub2585_1.pdf.
Winrow, Gareth. “Realization of Turkey’s Energy Aspirations: Pipe Dreams or Real Projects?” The Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings, Turkey Project Policy Paper, no. 4 (April 2014), https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Turkeys-Energy-Aspirations.pdf.
World Bank. Turkey’s Energy Transition Milestones and Challenges. Report No. ACS14951. Washington, DC, 2015. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/249831468189270397/pdf/ACS14951-REVISED-Box393232B-PUBLIC-EnergyVeryFinalEN.pdf.
Editors and Affiliations
Rights and permissions
© 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Bayulgen, O. (2021). Byzantine Energy Politics: The Complex Tale of Low Carbon Energy in Turkey. In: Mills, R., Sim, LC. (eds) Low Carbon Energy in the Middle East and North Africa. International Political Economy Series. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-59554-8_6
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
Print ISBN: 978-3-030-59553-1
Online ISBN: 978-3-030-59554-8
eBook Packages: Political Science and International StudiesPolitical Science and International Studies (R0)