Small Turkish village thinks big with wind power

28/10/2011

To boost its domestic energy production, Turkey plans to invest in alternative energy. One village is ahead of the curve.

By Alina Lehtinen for Southeast European Times in Istanbul -- 28/10/11

photo

The windmill is expected to save each person in the community 200-300TL a year. [Alina Lehtinen/SETimes]

Akbiyik, a small village in western Turkey, began looking into alternative energy methods three years ago after the government cut off the pump used to bring water to the fields and residents' homes, due to unpaid electricity bills.

The 365 residents of Akbiyik refused to pay their bills for the pump due to economic reasons and spite for the local government. After the incident, village Mayor Mustafa Cicek proposed the idea of building a windmill to produce energy.

"The village had a small mill 200 years ago and I thought we could build a new mill to produce energy for the water pump," Cicek explained to SETimes.

He took his idea to the Bursa administration which was excited. "They liked the idea so much," he said.

With the help of the Bursa administration and Ankara based energy company Soyut Construction and Engineering, the village began building the windmill in July 2008. Villagers volunteered to help build the mill and the government and Soyut loaned the machines and equipment to set it up.

The windmill, which produces 50kWt of energy, cost 210,000 TL to build. The state gave the village 140,000 TL and the residents of Akbiyik paid the rest.

After finishing the construction, the villagers had to wait two years before they could get permission to connect the windmill to the state electrical grid.

"We had to wait for the laws to change. The old law stated that we cannot connect the windmill to the state power lines but officials in Ankara told us to wait, that they are changing the laws," Cicek said.

Turkey, a country that suffers from a massive current account deficit partly fed by the need for imported energy, is looking into ways to produce more energy on its own soil. In what the local media calls "the biggest project in the history of the Republic", Turkey is currently developing its first locally produced wind turbine.

The project is called the National Wind Energy System project, and the turbine will start operating next year.

Akbiyik residents won't have to wait that long for their windmill to begun producing energy. According to Cicek, the turbine will start operating any day now. Villagers estimate that they will save 200-300TL annually per person because of the windmill.

According to former Mayor Ahmet Alp, some of the surrounding villages have shown interest in building their own windmills.

"One guy came from Iznik [30 minutes from Akbiyik] to check out the turbine," he told SETimes.

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In the 1970s, Akbiyik was the second largest village in Yenisehir, but it now is among the smallest in the region.

Many young people have gone to Bursa for studies and work, and around 65% of the villagers are elderly. The residents are hopeful that the windmill will attract more young people to Akbiyik.

"My 31-year-old son was planning to move out of the village but he decided to stay because of the windmill," claims Cicek.

In the next few years, Akbiyik is planning to replace the current windmill with a larger one. "We want to build a bigger windmill so we can sell energy to other villages in the region," Cicek said.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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