Gaziantep, The Town That Sun Shines

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Would you like to live longer? Would you like your friends and family to live longer? Would you like your planet to live longer? The key to all of that is not far away, it is renewable energy. But what exactly is renewable energy, also known as the green energy? Renewable energy is “the energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale” [1]. It simply is the energy of which the source can be recovered. My hometown is one of the places that have the potential to improve the use of green energy, especially solar and wind energy. Gaziantep is a city in southeastern Turkey that is based on a plateau and has a mix of Mediterranean and steppe climates; which means it takes steady wind and sunlight throughout the year. Although both solar and wind energy are suitable for Gaziantep, solar has and will have more advantages and should be chosen over wind. It stands out in three different aspects: being cheaper and easier to be placed, having more potential and maintaining consistency and efficiency.

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First, we should examine how suitable Gaziantep is for solar panels and wind turbines to be placed. In a city of 2 million people, it is hard to find many open and flat places for a wind turbine to be put on. Although it is a densely populated city and has some flat spaces outside of it, those spaces are either used for agriculture or too far out to be an efficient source for the city. However, solar panels are easier to be placed around the town. They can be placed on the rooftop of almost any building, apartment buildings being the most dominant in Gaziantep. Solar is also significantly cheaper than wind. While it would cost approximately $20,000 to power an entire average home in the United States with wind power, it would cost between $87 and $219 using solar power; assuming the average home has the rooftop area of 2,000 square feet [2]. Therefore, solar has more room to be applied in Gaziantep, especially in the central towns of Sehitkamil and Sahinbey; where most of the buildings are concentrated in.

Another aspect that affects the preference of these two resources would be their potential. “A total of 173,000 terawatts (trillions of watts) of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.” says MIT Physics professor Washington Taylor [3]. But, only 2% of solar energy is converted to kinetic energy in wind according to the University of Michigan [4]. Gaziantep is no different than the world. It takes sunshine for 2,649.2 hours (60%) per year [5] while having the wind power potential of 222 Watts/square meters at 10 meters of height [6]; which is encouraging but nowhere near the solar potential. As can be seen, solar power has a lead on the overall energy potential over wind power in both Gaziantep and the Earth as a whole.

Lastly, the consistency and efficiency of a resource heavily matter if they are used or not. Wind may come and go, but the sun can be counted on to rise every day except for the regions inside the polar circles [7]. If there is not enough air movement to move the wind turbine, there will be no energy produced by it. However, solar panels have no moving parts or indirect conversion systems that would mitigate their potential significantly. They produce energy even in the cloudiest days. Almost all the energy of the Earth comes from the Sun, so why should we not use its energy directly? Elon Musk once said “We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky -- called the Sun. You don't have to do anything -- it just works.” [8] when he was asked about using fusion reactors on the surface of Earth. The only problem with it is the fact that it does not provide energy at night. Nevertheless, solar power is consistent and can be used and expanded more reliably and efficiently than wind power.

For all these reasons, Gaziantep has a lot more opportunities to use solar power than wind power and can be more sustainable in the future by investing in it. It is a city that is mostly flat and has thousands of buildings with flat rooftops. It takes a substantial amount of sunlight throughout the year and can be one of the best places to start a green energy movement in Turkey starting with the solar panels. It has wind potential that can be used as well, but it is inferior to and less reliable than the solar potential. When the recent trends in Turkish politics and economy are examined, Turkey does not seem to be a place to be a leader in green energy. However, it has already started to increase the use of renewable energy resources and Gaziantep is considered [9] as a city with above-average solar power potential. The future is bright for my town just like the Sun that shines over it. But the future does not have to be far away. There is a common saying in Turkish: “There is no sooner than tomorrow…”. So, let us turn Gaziantep green today in the pursuit of a greener tomorrow.

References

  1. O. Ellabban, H. Abu-Rub and F. Blaabjerg, Renewable energy resources: Current status, future prospects and their enabling technology, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, no. 39, pp. 748-764, 2014.
  2. A. Sendy, Is solar or wind a better way to power your home?, Solar Reviews, p. 1, 30 April 2018.
  3. D. L. Chandler, Shining brightly, MIT News Office, p. 1, 26 October 2011.
  4. Center for Sustainable Systems, University of Michigan, Wind Energy Factsheet, p. 1, 2018.
  5. Turkish State Meteorological Service, Resmi İstatistikler: İllerimize Air Genel İstatistik Verileri, 13 January 2019. [Online]. Available: https://web.archive.org/web/20170712031941/https://www.mgm.gov.tr/veridegerlendirme/il-ve-ilceler-istatistik.aspx. [Accessed 23 September 2019].
  6. V. M. Karsli and C. Gecit, An investigation on wind power potential of Nurdaǧı-Gaziantep, Turkey, Renewable Energy, no. 28, pp. 823-830, 2003.
  7. C. Burn, The Polar Night, The Aurora Research Institute, Inuvik, NWT, 1996.
  8. C. Gallo, Forbes, Forbes Media, LLC., 4 May 2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2015/05/04/teslas-elon-musk-lights-up-social-media-with-a-ted-style-keynote/#4d13c3407ad2. [Accessed 23 September 2019].
  9. [Yenilenebilir Enerji Genel Müdürlüğü, Güneş Enerjisi Potansiyel Atlası, Çankaya, Ankara, 2018.
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