Türkiye’s coal import bill doubles in 2022 as Russia becomes main supplier

  • Istanbul

  • 13 March 2023

Cost of importing coal for power to Türkiye hits record high of $5.3bn

New analysis from think-tank Ember shows that Türkiye was faced with a record high coal import bill last year, as imports from Russia surged. Increased imports and globally high prices pushed the cost of importing coal for power to $5.3bn, double that of the previous year.

“Türkiye has seen dependence on imported coal rise, and it is coming at a cost,” said Ufuk Alparslan, Ember’s regional lead for Türkiye, Ukraine and the Western Balkans. “Türkiye needs to look for clean alternatives to lower import bills and secure its energy independence.”

Türkiye produced 25% more electricity from imported coal than from domestic sources in 2022. This is part of a recent trend of expanded reliance on coal imports, with imported coal reaching 20% of Türkiye’s total power generation last year (63 TWh), up from 7% in 2010 (15 TWh).

Russian coal imports for power more than doubled from 2021 to 2022 in Türkiye, rising from 5.2 million tonnes to 11.3. With half of the country’s coal imports for power coming from Russia in 2022, this increase also meant Russia became Türkiye’s largest supplier, overtaking Colombia. 

Türkiye is already highly dependent on Russia for energy, with Russian imports supplying 45% of Türkiye’s gas in 2021, and slightly less than a quarter of crude oil and oil products. Russia also owns Türkiye’s first and only nuclear power plant project, Akkuyu, which is now under construction.

Wind and solar show slow and steady rise as gas takes a hit

Wind and solar power continue their upward trend in 2022 by reaching 15.5% share in Türkiye’s total generation, up from 13.5% a year ago. 

With almost 11% wind share in generation, Türkiye outranks G20 countries like France and Italy. However, solar underperforms compared to many European countries, with similar solar share to countries with much lower solar potential, such as Poland and Ukraine. Türkiye’s latest energy plan targets 53 GW by 2035, but Ember’s analysis finds that reaching that goal would require annual solar installations to triple.

In 2022, gas power generation was almost 40 TWh lower than the previous year, a 35% fall.  This dip was in part driven by a partial switch to coal (+10 TWh) because of sky high gas prices, the rebound of hydro from a dry year and a rise in wind generation and power imports. Lower power demand thanks to the relatively cool summer also brought down gas generation compared to the previous year.