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Turkey Towards 2023 Part Three: Infrastructure and Energy Plans

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Read Part Two of Turkey Towards 2023 here.

Infrastructure projects

Turkey has been investing heavily in improving its infrastructure in recent years, and the government is keen to continue the momentum for at least the next decade. As an example, look at the announcement by the Defence Minister, Ismet Yilmaz, in July of this year regarding the military security zones: “These are set to be replaced by new housing, education and transport projects, to cater for the country’s rapidly growing population.” The military sites located in the affluent western part of the country will be moved to the east, while many of Istanbul’s military sites (over 50 000 acres) are likely to be redeveloped. Such schemes are essential in a country that has experienced one of the highest urbanisation rates in the world. Three quarters of the population now resides in urban areas compared to 25% in 1960.

Work has now begun on the construction of Istanbul’s controversial US$3 billion third bridge across the Bosphorus. It will be known as ‘Yavuz Sultan Selim’, named after one of the most prominent sultans in Ottoman history.

The Italian-Turkish consortium of Astaldi SpA and IC Içtas will build the bridge under an engineering, procurement and construction contract at a cost of US$3 billion. It is understood that six Turkish banks and a bank from the Netherlands will provide US$2.3 billion in funding for the project. The new bridge, which will form part of the north Marmara motorway project’s Odateri-Pasakoy section, is expected to relieve congestion on the two existing bridges. Akçansa is supplying concrete as part of a US$6.5 billion highway to link Istanbul and the western city of Izmir. The project includes a 3 km suspension bridge across the Sea of Marmara. The contract was awarded to the Astaldi-led consortia involving Turkish, Italian and Japanese constructors.

Construction of Istanbul’s third airport is scheduled to begin in early 2014. This is another controversial project, raising anger among environmentalists about the ecological footprint, as some 6172 ha. of forested land out of the 7659 ha. site will be destroyed to make way for six runways, 16 taxi-ways, 88 passenger bridges, 165 aircraft passenger bridges at all the terminals, as well as a 6.5 million m2 apron with capacity for 500 aircraft. No wonder the project is being described as the biggest ever construction undertaking in Turkish history; over 5000 people will be needed to build the airport. At a cost of €10 billion, the new airport will provide jobs for 100 000 people.

A train driven by Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and carrying a number of senior national and government figures, made its maiden journey beneath the Bosphorus through the Marmaray Tunnel on 4 August. This is what Turkish officials claimed to be the world’s first intercontinental subway. The tunnel, which in places is 60 m below sea level, is one of the key projects defined in the 2023 Master Plan – the country’s long-term development strategy culminating in the centenary of the republic – a plan to double the railway network over the next decade. In July, the Transport Minister announced that at least 1500 miles of high-speed rail lines would be built in the next five years to connect 14 different cities.

Another great feat of Turkish engineering became fully operational in February 2013: the Deriner Dam on the Çoruh River in northeastern Turkey. The 720 m long x 249 m high double curved arch dam required over 3.5 million m3 of concrete. It is one of the largest in Europe and the sixth highest in the world. The heart of the giant project is an underground hydroelectric power plant whose four giant turbines can generate 2100 GW/h, the equivalent annual consumption of a large city.

Energy: from importer to exporter

Paramount to Turkey’s future ambitions is the plan to turn from a net importer to a net exporter of energy. The country’s energy consumption has almost doubled over the past ten years from 130 billion kWh to 240 billion kWh. The rate of demand growth for natural gas and electricity is topped only by China! Turkey imported more than US$60 billion in energy last year. The Prime Minister confirmed that the country was importing 72% of the country’s energy requirements and that demand will double in the next decade. His response is to build three nuclear power stations: “Once these are ready we’ll need less than a third of our current natural gas imports. That will reduce our gas bill by US$7.2 billion, and open up the potential to export energy”.

The Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom and ZAO Atomstroyexport have been preparing to build the first nuclear plant in Mersin Province on the Mediterranean coast. It is expected to start supplying some of the final 4.8 GW by 2019. In May of this year, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and Areva SA of France signed a US$22 billion agreement with the government to build the second nuclear plant in Sinop province on the Black Sea coast. Construction will begin in 2017.

On renewables, Turkey’s biggest wind farm was opened in the north western province of Balikesir in May. The investment of €153 million was made possible by the joint effort of E.ON and Sabanci Holding. It is designed to produce 500 kWh of electricity each year to cover the demand of an estimated 170 000 households. While this use of renewables is encouraging, “there is simply not enough investment in this type of energy,” said Energy Minister Yildez. “We have to produce double the amount of electricity we are producing now. That’s why the planned nuclear plants are so important”.

Written by Paul Maxwell-Cook. This is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the December 2013 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.

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