Geothermal energy in Turkey

  (Redirected from Geothermal power in Turkey)

Geothermal energy in Turkey is a significant part of renewable energy in Turkey. It generates 3% of Turkey's electricity,[1] and is also used for geothermal heating. Geothermal power in Turkey began in the late 20th century, and 63 power plants operate in Turkey as of 2022,[2] with potential for more.[3] Turkey has almost 2 GW of installed geothermal power capacity, the fourth largest in the world;[4] and is the world's second largest user of geothermal heating, after China.[5]: 51  All geothermal plants are in Western Anatolia,[1] due to its favorable geology.[6]

There is a potential for 5 GW of total geothermal power,[6] including enhanced geothermal systems.[7] Carbon dioxide emissions from new geothermal power are high in Turkey, as the metamorphic rocks can release carbon. Research has shown that this is especially true for new power plants, but the emission rate declines with age. Public opinion is sometimes against geothermal due to emissions of foul smelling hydrogen sulfide. To reduce all these emissions, the fluid is sometimes completely reinjected.[8]


Temperature is mostly low-to-moderate but there are a few high-temperature resources in the Menderes Massif.[9] Ther are 16 fields hotter than 130 degrees, one in the Marmara Region and the rest in the Aegean Region.[10]: 5  The high geothermal potential is due to the geology of Turkey, such as the radiogenic granites of western Anatolia[11] and the Western Anatolian Graben systems (Büyük Menderes and Gediz Grabens[10]: 5 ). The heat generated by the radioactivity of these granites, which cover over 4000 sq. km, ranges from around 5 to 16 µW/m3.[11]

However the carbon content of non-condensable gases in the geothermal fluids are high at many plants,[12] therefore care must be taken to avoid excessive carbon emissions.

Carbon-dioxide emissionsEdit

The metamorphic rocks of the Buyuk Menderes and Gediz grabens have an unusual geology: especially in acid conditions the calcite in the rocks can release a lot of CO2 into the surrounding very hot water.[13] The CO2 emissions from new geothermal plants in Turkey are some of the highest in the world, ranging from 900 to 1300 g/kWh[14] (similar to coal power) but gradually decline.[15][16][17] But according to a 2020 report these short-term high CO2 emissions can be dealt with.[18][note 1] Measures might include reinjection into the reservoir, or removal methods such as CarbFix.[18][20] Because emissions decline over time the World Bank has estimated that lifetime emissions will be similar to the world geothermal average.[21] The problem is not expected outside these two grabens.[22]: 24 

Direct use of heatEdit

Not all geothermal is suitable for electricity generation but almost every region has heating possibilities.[6] Turkey is second only to China in direct use,[23] with almost 4 GWt, including 1120 MWt district heating, 855 MWt greenhouse heating (such as tomatoes for export[24] and dried fruit[25]) and many spas and hotels.[26] It is hoped that more such spas will extend the season for tourism in Turkey.[27] But in 2021 the International Energy Agency said that there was still untapped potential in buildings,[28] and in 2022 Ufuk Senturk, president of the Geothermal Power Plant Investors Association, said that the number of homes heated could be increased from 160 thousand to a million.[6] According to the Greenhouse Investors and Manufacturers Association there are 5,400 decares of geothermally heated greenhouses (first in the world) as of 2022 with payback in 4 to 7 years, but this could be increased to 30 thousand decares.[29] District heating is sometimes combined with electricity generation, and can save money compared to gas heating.[30]


In 1965, the state-owned Turkish Mineral Research and Exploration Co. began the first geological and geophysical surveys in southwestern Turkey. The Kızıldere geothermal reservoir, a field on the western branch of Büyük Menderes Graben, was discovered in 1968 as a geothermal field suitable for electricity generation. The first power plant was built as a prototype facility in 1974 with 500 kW installed capacity.[9] The generated electricity was distributed to the households in the vicinity free of charge. The state-owned Electricity Generation Company enlarged the installed capacity up to 17.4 MW in 1984.[9] However, the average actual power was around 10 MW. In 2008, the power plant was transferred to Zorlu Energy in the frame of privatization. Zorlu Energy obtained the right of operating lease for 30 years, and increased the capacity from 6 MW to 15 within a short time. The company invested US$250 million to expand the facility. In December 2013, the Kızıldere Geothermal Power Plant reached an installed capacity of 95 MW making it Turkey's biggest.[31][32]

Most is in the form of direct-use heating however geothermal electricity is currently produced at the Kizildere plant in the province of Denizli producing 120,000 tons of liquid carbon dioxide and dry ice. As of 2006 and 2010, there were two plants generating 8.5 and 11.5 MWe respectively, in Aydın.[33]

The direct-use heating has been mostly district heating serving 103,000 residences (827 MWt and 7712.7 TJ/year). There is also individual space heating (74 MWt and 816.8 TJ/year); 800,000 m2 of heated greenhouses (192 MWt and 3,633 TJ/year); and 215 balneological facilities, 54 spas, bathing and swimming pools (402 MWt and 12,677.4 TJ/year).[34] It is stated that at least 1.5 million houses, currently heated by natural gas, can switch to being heated by thermal waters.[35]

As of 2005, 170 future geothermal prospects had been identified with 95% in the low-to medium enthalpy range suitable for direct-use applications (Simsek et al., 2005).[36] Geothermal exploration has accelerated since the adoption of the Law on Geothermal Resources and Natural Mineral Waters in 2007. This law gave potential private partners the necessary confidence to invest, eliminating some of their concerns with regard to legislative, technical and administrative hurdles. For instance, the law reduced the number of licenses to two.[37][38]

For plants started between 2010 and 2021 the Renewable Energy Support Scheme feed-in tariff was 10.5 USCent/kWh guaranteeing companies a purchase price for the energy they generated at a fixed rate for ten years.[37]

In 2010 the installed geothermal electricity generation capacity was 100 MWe while direct use installations were approximately 795 MWt.[39] Turkey reaches milestone 1,100 MW of installed geothermal power generation capacity in December 2017. Turkey is fourth largest in the world in 2018 when it comes to installed capacity after United States. From 2009 to 2019, the number of geothermal power plants increased from 3 to 49.[40] This corresponds to a geothermal capacity of 1.5 GWe, placing Turkey fourth in the world for after the USA, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to the Energy Market Regulatory Authority [tr].[37]

Power plants in operationEdit

Geothermal electricity generation (red) has increased slowly

Almost all geothermal power plants are south or east of Izmir, Turkey's third largest city.[41] Notable geothermal plants include the Gümüşköy Geothermal Power Plant in Germencik, Aydın Province and the Kızıldere Geothermal Power Plant, Sarayköy, Denizli Province. Electricity generation potential was estimated at 4 GW in 2020.[11]

Two-thirds of the installed capacity uses the binary while the rest of the one third uses the flash cycle.[42][43] Suppliers of binary-cycle technology; such as Atlas Copco, Exergy and Ormat; are prominent in the market.[23] At high enthalpy and high temperature combined flash-binary plants are more efficient.[9] Sometimes wells owned by competing companies interfere with each other.[9]

Environmental impact and public opinionEdit

There are both existing and planned plants in environmentally sensitive areas.[22]: 8 

In 2019 Enel sponsored the 88KEYS Institute to conduct a public opinion survey in Aydın, the province with the most geothermal potential.[44] At that time, over a fifth of people over 45 believed geothermal power was damaging to health.[45] About half of that age group also believed that it is not harmful if properly managed, as did about two-thirds of younger people.[45] In 2019 there were concerns about possible hydrogen sulphide (H
) in the air and heavy metals in the water.[23]

In 2020 the Ministry of Environment and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development published a guide which recommended various social, environmental and technical best practices including that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the concentration of foul smelling H
gas in the air should not exceed 7 μg/m3 in an average of 30 minutes. The WHO says that due to the strong public reaction against odor emanating from geothermal power plants and the resulting social perceptions, the odor problem needs to be taken very seriously and solutions need to be implemented. WHO recommended technologies that guarantee the re-injection of the entire source (liquid + non-condensable gases) during operation as the most effective method to prevent gases from being released into the atmosphere.[16] WHO further advised that H
could be reinjected together with CO2, as is sometimes done in Iceland.[16] However the carbon price in Iceland is the same as the EU Allowance (around 80 euros a tonne in mid-2022),[46] whereas in Turkey it is zero so there is no financial penalty for releasing it..


Geothermal is financially risky,[47] but if public money is invested at an early stage of a project that gives private investors confidence to complete the financing.[12] In 2022 the World Bank loaned $300 million for geothermal energy,[48] some to private companies via the industrial development bank Türkiye Sınai Kalkınma Bankası.[22][10] According to the Geothermal Power Plant Investors Association the cost of a kilometre deep well is about 1 million USD.[6] It may be possible to use existing oil exploration boreholes in Southeast Anatolia.[6] The feed-in-tariff is in lira and adjusted quarterly, but capped at 8.6 USCent/kWh.[49] The Geothermal Energy Association said in 2021 that development costs were increasing at about 70% a year (official inflation in the economy of Turkey was also about 70% in mid-2022[50]) in lira terms, but that the feed in tariff quarterly increases were not keeping pace: they called for monthly increases.[51] The Geothermal Power Plant Investors Association said in February 2022 that the interest on lira loans was about 24%, and that it was nonviable to invest at the then feed in tariff.[6]

Research and developmentEdit

International conferences on geothermal energy are held most years in Turkey, such as the Women in Geothermal conference in Istanbul[52] and the International Geothermal Energy Congress & Exhibition in Izmir.[53] Hot rock geothermal fields in eastern Turkey have not been fully explored as of 2019.[54] It has also been estimated that 30% of Turkish residences could be heated through geothermal energy.[55] Studies show that geothermal energy could also be used for desalination or to produce hydrogen by electrolysis; but as of 2022 this has not been applied practically.[11][56] As Turkey is prone to earthquakes, research on induced seismic risk is also a significant topic, and has been seen to cause surface cracks.[57] Construction is an important part of the Turkish economy, and it has been suggested that the technology used to produce dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) at Kızıldere and Tuzla geothermal power plants could be adapted to capture CO2 emissions from cement production, and the dry ice used to fight wildfires.[58] Extracting lithium from geothermal water is being researched,[27] to meet some of the demand from increasing battery production.[59]

Development is supported by the World Bank[48] and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development via the Green Economy Financing Facility.[60] As of 2021 further research is needed on CO2 emissions, but projects with estimated average annual lifetime emissions above 540 gCO2/kWh (this is roughly similar to a gas-fired power plant) will not be financed.[22]: 31 


  1. ^ A European study showing no net increase in CO2 did not include Turkey.[19]


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External linksEdit