Forum for Foresight and Future Analysis in the Areas of International Politics and Global Issues
The project ‘Turkish Energy Leadership and Turkish-EU Policy Options for a Sustainable Energy Future’ is conducted at the Istanbul Policy Center (IPC), Istanbul, by Mercator-IPC Fellow Jörn Richert (that’s me). During the course of 2014, I analyze the role of sustainable energy policies in Turkish energy politics and discuss how the EU and Turkey can work together towards a sustainable energy future.
Initial research has led me to focus my attention on Turkish energy leadership. As visible in the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resource’s Strategic Plan for 2010–2014, leadership is at the core of Turkey’s energy policy. The Ministry’s overall vision is to
‘make our country the leader of its region in energy and natural resources’.
I choose this vantage point because I believe that making the case for a Turkish-EU sustainable energy future has to start with Turkey. Only if such a future turns out being in the interest of Turkey, cooperation with Europe makes sense.
The project is structured in three parts: (1) scrutinizing Turkey’s claim for energy leadership as ‘Energy Hub’, (2) developing an alternative approach: Turkey as ‘Sustainable Energy Leader’, and (3) a scenario analysis in which these two approaches are evaluated in the light of potential future developments of the world energy order. In this final part, furthermore, EU-Turkish policy options will be deduced.
Becoming an energy leader is the main vision of Turkish energy policy. The means of doing so are specified in the abovementioned energy strategy. Turkey wants to become an energy leader by turning
‘our country into an energy hub and terminal by using our geo-strategic position effectively within the framework of the regional cooperation processes’.
In the first part of my research project, I aim to scrutinize the viability of this conception of energy leadership.
In particular, I tackle two sub-questions: First, is becoming an energy hub in the future a realistic prospect for Turkey? In discussing this question, I give particular attention of the structural shifts in global gas trade that are expected to follow the US (and potentially more far-reaching) ‘shale gas revolution’.
The second sub-question regards the political logics and the understanding of power that underlie a conception of leadership as energy hub. How can energy leadership actually be applied by an energy hub? Is the application of ‘hub-power’ more useful with regard to some policy aims than with regard to others? What would its short-term application mean for long-term political and power relations? And what are the limits of ‘hub power’?
After having scrutinized Turkey’s actual political vision of energy leadership built on becoming an ‘Energy Hub’ in part one, the second part of the project aims to develop an alternative vision: that of ‘Sustainable Energy Leadership’.
A sustainable energy leader will strive for greater energy efficiency, the expansion of renewable energies, as well as the sustainable use of fossil fuels such as gas. A realistic and pragmatic approach to energy generation’s side effects, such as climate change and the risks of nuclear power will also be part of such a vision.
At the same time, however, sustainable energy leadership should not be misunderstood as economically harmful or putting energy security at risk. Instead, while promoting a sustainable energy future, such a leadership approach must also ensure affordable and reliable energy supplies.
I intend to discuss Turkey’s potential of implementing a sustainable energy leadership vision, the advantages and risks of such a move and its impact on the economy and energy security. Specific consideration must thereby be given to Turkey’s global standing as an emerging economy.
Moreover, I will dwell on the political logics and the understanding of power underlying such an alternative vision thus making it comparable to current ‘Energy Hub Leadership’ ambitions.
In part three, I take the ‘Energy Hub Leadership’ and the alternative ‘Sustainable Energy Leadership’ visions and test their performance over a range of scenarios that represent potential future developments of the world energy order. This analysis will yield insights regarding the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches to energy leadership for Turkey.
From this analysis, I finally also deduce EU-Turkish policy options for mutually working together towards a secure and more sustainable energy future.
In conducting my research, I analyze the discourse on Turkish energy politics, consider concrete trajectories of Turkish energy consumption and production as well as energy policies of relevant international partners. I review existing foresight studies, build on previous scenario works on the world energy order, and interview energy experts and practitioners.
Author: Jörn Richert
Picture (Map in Logo): Presseurop, adapted version.