Sarayönü is one of the few cities in Turkey to have largely reoriented its energy consumption towards solar energy and to prove that it is possible to turn to renewable energies for all energy needs. The city in the central province of Konya is now completely dependent on solar power for the energy resources needed for infrastructure and power generation for municipal buildings. In addition, they have succeeded in limiting carbon emissions, a crucial issue in the context of the climate crisis.
The city‘s solar power plant of about 27,000 people meets the energy demand of all municipal facilities in 26 neighborhoods, producing 999 kilowatts of electricity per hour. Only about 60% of the energy produced by the plant is sufficient to power the lighting poles illuminating the city streets. The municipality also benefits economically by selling the excess energy production to a private electricity distribution company. Mayor Nafiz Solak said they had decided to invest in the plant for “future generations”. “We need a clean future and this is only possible with renewable energies,” Solak told Anadolu (AA) agency on Tuesday.
With 3,008 solar panels, the plant saved the municipality from spending millions on electricity needs. Solak said they plan to establish another factory now. “(The) current plant supplies the light poles, our facilities, workshops and quarries managed by the municipality. With the income from the sale of electricity, we are financing new investments,” he said. Sarayönü is also home to private wind turbines, and the mayor says they have supported their work as well.
“The solar power plant has had many benefits for us. For example, we have seen a significant improvement in air quality. It is important in terms of reducing our dependence on non-renewable energy sources”, a- he added.
Konya, with its arid climate and sunny weather for most of the year, is one of the ideal locations for solar power plants. The country’s largest power plant, built by Kalyon Holding, is also under construction in the province, with its first phase completed last year. When the plant reaches full capacity, it will be the largest solar power plant in Europe and one of the five largest in the world. Turkey currently ranks 13th in the world and 7th in Europe with 7,154 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity.