Europe has started 2018’s summer by extreme climatic incidents that strike Europeans and European ecosystems from Scandinavia to Mediterranean Region. While Stockholm is experiencing its hottest July in the last 260 years (O’sullivan, 2018), Mediterranean Region is also having difficult times by the last fires occured in Greece that have a significant worldwide coverage these days. According to Statt (2018), climate change is undoubtedly accused by giving rise to these extreme climatic scenarios mentioned above.
Just like its European peers, Turkey where the extreme climatic incidents have tripled their numbers in the last forty years (Sayman, 2018) is one of the most vulnerable Mediterranean countries. Therefore, all these environmental news show that the governments need to think more critically than ever before when planning their way of making energy investments that are the main reason behind climate change. From this point of view, a new coal fired power plant project that is being planned to implement in Alpu Lowland, Turkey is drawing a huge attention nowadays.
The aforementioned coal fired power plant project will serve with 1080 MW capacity if become operative and will affect several components of the lowland. Polemical conversations related with its future operations in Alpu Lowland already arised by the government, private energy sector and also non governmental sector. Although the recent government has a big motivation to implement this project that will affect Alpu region’s future, several scientific and political authorities such as the Union of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) and The Turkish Foundation for Combating Erosion Reforestation and The Protection Of Natural Habitats (TEMA) have shared the potential disappointing results of implementing such a fossil fuel power plant in the region. Actually, when these results are sufficiently analyzed, it can be concluded that the government needs to cancel Alpu Coal Fired Power Plant project for the sake of the region as well as the country. On the other hand, not for only this project, the government party, Justice and Development Party (AKP), does not lean towards cancelling fossil fuel power plants in Turkey.
Despite the fact that the tender invited for the construction of Alpu Coal Fired Power Plant has been postponed for the third time as a result of a lawsuit which is filed by local environmental NGO in May 2018, government officials continuously state that they bent on keeping this project alive as in the case of the other 60 upcoming fossil fuel power plant projects across the country (Gazete Duvar, n.d.). Although there are a couple of arguments that have a significant place behind the government’s motivation with implementing fossil fuel power plant projects, one of them has a big media coverage. Governmental agencies agree on the thermal power plant projects are the driving force of the Turkey’s development plans. From a conventional point of view, fossil fuel power plants can be considered as powerful development tools. In fact, the government has given a wide coverage to coal fired power plant projects and their activities in its 10th Development Plan report (URL1). Firstly, the report frequently mentions the projects with their high capacity of supplying energy so that they are capable of accelerating Turkey’s economy. Secondly, it is underlined that this energy production tools will make accessibility of the energy in the country easier so it will create a less foreign-dependent country by supplying enough energy that is desired for the development strategies. However, it is very hard to verify the accuracy of these arguments at this stage. Today low carbon economy models show that producing energy from fossil fuels creates a burden in countries’ economy. Especially in the countries that have insufficient quality of fossil fuel reserves like Turkey, Algedik (2018) states that using fossil fuel for the energy production is significantly increasing national current deficit. Due also to increasing population and the other development indicators, Turkey needs more energy than expected so this results in a continuous fuel import behavior to feed its thermal power plants. Consequently, far from having a developed economy, relying on fossil fuel for the energy production creates a billions of dollars of burden on the economy. Additionally the import fuels that are needed to drive thermal power plants are naturally making Turkey a more foreign-dependent country as a contrary scenario than as proposed by the Turkish government. In this paradox, Alpu Coal Fired Power Plant Project will be just one of Turkey’s new fossil children that will lead catastrophic regional and national consequences. So, here a conspicuous question merges: what are the potential regional consequences of such a project in Alpu?
Alpu Lowland is placed in Central Anatolia Region. It is known as one of the most important basins of Turkey in means of agriculture and husbandry. There are hundred of thousands of local people maintain their lives depending on the lowland’s ecological and economical functionality. Therefore, implementing a thermal power plant in Alpu Lowland has serious negative impacts on the environmental and the economical future of the region. To understand the level of the danger of this Alpu Coal Fired Power Plant Project , analyzing two eventual consequences are quite useful. The first one is the environmental degradations resulted from the activities of coal fired power plants. During their operations, they destroys environmental systems. For example water quality and quantity of the region will be one of the most affected environmental component among the others. No matter how they improve their technologies in means of having a less environmental impact, they all degrade the water quantity and quality. According to Gündoğan (2018) from İklim Haber, 50% of the national water that is withdrawn from the resources have been used by the coal fired power plant activities in Turkey in 2016. About the impact on water quality, since the fossil fuel power plants withdraw the water that is needed for their operations from a natural water body and discharge into the same waterbody but in a chemically altered form, they have a big capacity to change this water body’s chemical balances such as altered pH values or high toxic chemical concentrations (UCSUSA, 2017). Therefore, all these scientific results are giving alarm to Alpu in means of future of its natural water bodies. Furthermore, air quality is also affected due to coal fired power plant activities. When coal is fired in order to produce energy, several dangerous chemical compounds such toxic airborne pollutants and heavy metals are emitted into the air. The air with high concentration of such toxic compounds leads significantly serious diseases like asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems. The second potential consequence that help us figuring out level of the upcoming danger in Alpu is the negative effects of the project on the regional economical balances negatively. Alpu Region is one of the few self-sustained regions in Turkey. However the factors that warrant this self sufficient regions are under danger due to the proposed coal fired plant project. For instance, as mentioned early in this article, agriculture is the main driving force of the Alpu’s economy. Thus, when the eventual impacts of Alpus Coal Fired Plant project on the water systems, it is very easy to foreseen that region’s agriculture will be altered. Especially with accelerated drought due to climate change in Mediterranean Region, Alpu’s agriculture will become very vulnerable. Moreover, the employment conditions in the region will be influenced negatively. According to U.S. Department of Energy (n.d.), the proposed power plant project will need a 20.000 acres of land use. If the fact that the total land coverage for the agricultural activities in Alpu is approximately 100.000 acres, the project will cancel a huge portion of agricultural activities as well as the employment numbers. In other saying, thousands of local people who maintain their lives via agriculture will be unemployed upon the power plant become operative. Additionally, after the power plant is established, the employment for its operations will probably not conducted depending on local people’s labour is are not qualified for coal fired power plant operations.
A recent study about denialism by Kahn-Harris (2018) is drawing attentions in climate and energy sector nowadays. According to this study, humanity has been surrounded by denialism from vaccines to climate change to genocide in the last century. This problematic universal socio-cultural perception leads people to build their civilization without considering long term effects of their development actions. Today in Alpu, a new decision process that is capable of re-shaping future of the region is about to be conducted. This decision shows the plain truth that Alpu Lowland will be confronting with Turkey’s new fossil children that will bring the region into the middle of environmental and economical disasters. To conclude, as also a strong practice of combating denialism in the central Anatolia, cancelling a proposed coal fired power plant will probably be the best decision that has been ever taken for the sake of Alpu.
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