The Afsin-Elbistan coal fields in the Turkish southern province of Kahramanmaras will attract between 10 and 12 billion USD in investments without the Treasury guarantee, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said yesterday.
"A new power plant that will be established in this region will help cut nearly 1.2 billion USD worth of natural gas imports," said Yildiz, speaking at a signature ceremony for a joint power plant by Abu Dhabi-based TAQA and state-run power company EUAS in the province as reported by Anatolia news agency. The coal reserves in Afsin-Elbistan will be put to use for electricity production as part of efforts to decrease energy imports, he said. Energy imports account for a large part of Turkey's current account deficit. "The Afsin-Elbistan coal field, with 4.4 billion tons of reserves, makes up nearly 10% of Turkey's lignite reserves. There is a potential to build new power plants with a total installed capacity of 8,200 megawatts," Yildiz said, adding that "We will put 17,000 megawatts of coal-burning power plants into use by 2013." Meanwhile, Hamad al-Hurr al-Suwaidi, the chairman of Abu Dhabi's department of finance, said in his speech at the ceremony that Turkey had a mature and stable energy sector and that the country's energy demand was increasing every day. TAQA operates an installed capacity of more than 16,000 megawatts in 13 countries, he added.