GeoPro research project – Interview Ural Halacoglu, Zorlu Energy, Turkey

Kizildere 3 geothermal power plant, Turkey (source: TWI/ Zorlu Energy)
Alexander Richter 29 Jul 2020

As key stakeholder on behalf of Turkish Zorlu Energy, Ural Halacoglu discusses the EU-funded GeoPro project, and its potential impacts on geothermal exploitation in an interview. The project is led by TWI and consists of 12 partners, across UK and Europe.

The EU-funded GeoPro research project has been set up to improve the accuracy and consistency of key thermodynamic and kinetic input data, and the accuracy of the respective Equations of State (and relevant constitutive equations) specifically in order to develop a verified set of robust, user friendly, flexible and accessible tools to optimize sustainable geothermal reservoir management, power and heat production and reinjection strategies.

Partners to the project consortium are entities in Iceland, Norway, UK, Switzerland, Germany, France and Turkey.

Turkish energy company Zorlu Energy is providing one of the three sites for the GEOPRO proejct  that demonstrates characteristic fluid issues of high gas contents and scaling imposing operational limitations. As a key stakeholder, Ural Halacoglu from Zorlu Energy explains the benefits of GEOPRO in exploitation of geothermal energy especially as energy experts speculate the post-pandemic energy shift to Green Economy!

Introducing Ural Halacoglu

I was born on 24th of May 1989 in Turkey and completed my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Yildiz Technical University’s Mechanical Engineering department in 2012 and 2015 respectively. I have been studying my Ph. D. at the same university on Geothermal Power Plant Design and Optimisation since 2015. I started working in Zorlu Energy one year later my graduation from university. I have been working as a Project & Business Development Assistant Manager and currently I am mostly responsible for R&D projects partnered by our companies Zorlu Energy and OEDAS (Osmangazi Electricity Distribution Co.).

Geothermal energy market in Turkey

Thanks to governmental policies and hardworking people in this field, Turkey had a great success in recent 15 years in geothermal business. Total installed capacity was only around 15 MWe until 2005. Turkish government set a new regulation and feed-in tariff mechanism to support renewable electricity generation in 2005. This was the greatest milestone for most of the investors to start investing in renewables and especially geothermal. Geothermal total installed capacity reached up to 1.500 MWe as of June 2020 and it is a great development compared to numbers which were available only 15 years ago.

My professional career and journey has also begun with geothermal energy. Zorlu Energy is the biggest geothermal investor and operator in Turkey and keeps 1/5 of total installed capacity. Zorlu Energy entered into that business in 2008 with the privatisation of Kizildere geothermal field and power plant which was the oldest geothermal plant in Turkey established in 1984. Zorlu and all other investors accelerated their studies right after the new regulations in 2005. This acceleration lead us to 4th rank in the world as of today.

Turkey still have a great potential to generate electricity from geothermal. However feed-in tariff mechanism will terminate by the end of 2020 and investors are looking for a new feed-in tariff mechanism announcement by the government also after 2020. We believe that all the investors will continue their studies as soon there is new feed-in tariff available.

Changes in market due to the pandemic and its affect on the company

Pandemic conditions affected most of the countries and economies including the energy business. However people better understood the importance of domestic utilisation not only in manufacturing or agriculture but also in energy business. I believe this new way of thinking will accelerate the development of renewables in Turkey and also all over the world.

The main problem due to pandemic was the delay in manufacture for some equipments required for geothermal power plants. These conditions extended commercial operation dates of some plants. Besides, economical problems and global crisis also affected most of the investors to wait and see the new world and new conditions. This has also deaccelerated some investment decisions.

Geothermal energy as part of the COVID-19 post recovery package

COVID-19 showed the importance of freedom and health for most of the people. We have seen the prompt response of nature to heal as we closed most of the factories and reduced the utilisation of fossil fuels. This created an awareness in all over the world and renewables are also one part of this awareness to keep the world clean and green. Geothermal energy is also one of the renewables which has a great potential with everyday developing technologies to compensate the need for fossil fuels. This is the reason why I believe renewables will attract more attention after pandemic.

Big benefits of projects like GEOPRO on driving the future of geothermal energy

GEOPRO is one of the exciting projects which we are partnering a couple of great people who are experienced in geothermal business. We will try to better understand the geothermal fluid properties. This will help us extract more heat from beneath the earth and we will operate our geothermal fields and power plants in a more efficient way. More renewables and geothermal energy means less fossil fuel for a better future.

Source: GeoPro Project