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Seferihisar Renewable Energy Citizen Cooperative - Seyeko
City/Region : Seferihisar Municipality , Turkey

Seferihisar Municipality is one of the founding members of Seferihisar Renewable Energy Cooperative a.k.a. ‘Seyeko’, which will have around hundred members from Izmir and the neighbouring city, Manisa. The purpose of the cooperative is to build a solar energy field of between 500-100 mW in Seferihisar (İzmir Province, Turkey).

Collective energy production is a new concept in Turkey. There are around a dozen existing energy cooperatives, however Seyeko is determined to be the first cooperative starting energy production. 

 This is a bit strange – there are existing energy cooperatives, but none of them are producing energy?

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationClimate change
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
Context

Seferihisar is a small harbour town 45 km from Izmir, on the coast of the Aegean region in Turkey. With an area of 386 km2 and a population of 36,000, agriculture and fishery have been the main industries in Seferihisar. Wind, solar and geothermal are the most common renewable energy sources in the peninsula, and Seferihisar became a Cittaslow (Slow City) town in 2009. 

Seferihisar is a member of the Covenant of Mayors and Compact of Mayors. With the purpose of gathering the valuable know-how by good practices at the national and international level, Seferihisar joined the ENERGYCITIES network in June 2011 and is committed to reduce its CO2 emissions by at least 20 % until 2020.

Aligning with sustainability development goals, Seferihisar Municipality initiated the foundation of a renewable energy cooperative. The total cost of the solar field is estimated around $550,000 USD and the payback time is around nine years.  

In Action

1 billion people all around the world are members of cooperatives. In the USA, the existing 900 rural electricity cooperatives reach almost the half of the distribution network and serve 37 million people. In Denmark and Germany, more than 50% of renewable energy facilities are initiated by cooperatives.

In Turkey, the Regulation of Unlicensed Electricity Production was amended in 2013.  State incentives were granted for solar energy production, and solar energy production up to 1 MW ( 1000 KW ) can be made without a national license.  Electricity produced by the unlicensed facilities can be sold to the State for at $0.133 USD per kW. There is a ten year state guarantee for the purchase of the unlicensed electricity.

The selected area shall not be far more than a kilometre to the nearest electricity distribution network, and the land should be facing south with an ideal slope of 30%.  

Seferihisar Municipality has allocated a plot of 20 acres that meet these.

Greenpeace visited Seferihisar in 2016 along with the campaign Gunese Yelken Ac, which promotes the usage of solar energy systems. Seferihisar introduced its vision of an energy cooperative, which we managed to realise a year later. Seferihisar Mayor Tunc Soyers’ commented on the subject before the Greenpeace meeting:

“We almost woke up in the morning with the hills full of wind turbines. We have always been against fossil fuels, so why not use our 300 days of sun and wind as an energy source? We installed solar panels on the covered marketplace next to the municipal building. The electricity generated by these panels is used for the municipal electricity needs and saves the citizens a valuable 125bn TL.

“The municipality is now preparing to find a solar field. The renewable energy facility will also serve as an educational centre for children. We will teach children about sustainable energy, and they will also learn the basics of agriculture and farming. The children will grow up using solar energy.“

Results

The Seyeko Sustainable Energy Cooperative of Seferihisar was founded by ten members, including Seferihisar Municipality, in 2016.  The solar field will be installed on the municipal land in the Kavakdere area of Seferihisar, and will meet the electricity needs of homes.  An area of 20 acres is allocated to the Cooperative’s use. Among the founding partners of Seyeko are engineers, local entrepreneurs and Seferihisar residents. They have made great efforts in analyzing the Turkish energy regulations and establishing connections with the sectors’ leading partners, technical experts and the members of energy cooperatives in order to gain knowledge in the field. After completing a series of complex legal procedures, we are now ready for new members to join the cooperative.

Since the announcement of the foundation of an energy cooperative six months ago, there have been hundreds of membership applications made by residents living in the coverage area (Izmir and Manisa). In the coming weeks we will start accepting members and expect to reach around 100 members.

Impact

Renewable energy cooperatives enable the local production of energy and minimize losses during energy transfer, which in the long term promotes local development.

Using solar energy instead of fossil fuels also reduces carbon emissions. Seferihisar’s new solar energy field will reduce the annual CO2 emissions by up to 600kg for 25 years, depending on the final capacity of the solar field.

Seferihisar is mainly an agricultural and tourism community and enjoys 300 days of sun each year. Reducing the emission levels will help preserve the natural resources and therefore the local economy.

We are glad to contribute in the production and usage of renewable energy sources. We believe that Seferihisar is a successful model for renewable energy cooperatives, and we hope that the Cittaslow cities, other cities in Turkey, and cities all around the world will follow suit and adopt green energy as their main energy source.

Challenges and lessons learned

The cooperative structure, where every member has only one vote regardless of the size of their share, is a democratic and transparent investment model. We hope that the cooperative concept will help alleviate citizens’ concerns about expensive energy investments.  

Turkish laws on renewable energy production are still being developed and do not fully cover all issues that the collectives face. The energy collectives and institutions working on renewable resources will continue providing feedback to lawmakers in order to establish functional laws.

Seyeko logo
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Contact

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg
Germany

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19

E-mail: info@sustainablecities.eu
Website: www.sustainablecities.eu

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