Turkey: High-quality Solar Hot Water Systems across Earthquake Area

One year after the earthquake in the city of Van in the very east of Turkey, the government has built more than 15,000 new houses for those who lost their homes. The 15,323 new flats were constructed within twelve months. All of them are equipped with individual 120 litre thermosiphon solar water heaters, corresponding to a total collector area of 30,646 m2.
Photo: Ezinç

Turkish collector and tank manufacturer Ezinç Metal San supplied, installed and commissioned more than 11,000 of these systems. Another 1,355 systems came from solar thermal system producer Ouraset, while several other suppliers delivered and set up the remaining installations. "We are deeply saddened by this great human tragedy. We have put a lot effort into improving the quality of life of the survivors in the shortest time possible, in order to contribute to the normalisation of life in the city,” Hakan Alas, General Manager of Ezinç, says. The project was initiated by the Housing Development Administration, TOKI, which is also responsible for social housing.

According to an Ouraset press release, this TOKI project followed standards uncommon for the domestic market: in addition to the local TSE certification, the collectors are closed-loop pressurised systems, which include highly selective copper absorbers and enamelled tanks, and have a Solar Keymark certification.

The earthquake region is not the only one in which social housing is an important market for solar thermal systems. Hüseyin Gökalp, Sales Manager of collector and tank manufacturer Solimpeks Energy Corp, says: “We are quite busy with TOKI projects.” In Turkey´s big cities, new houses spring up literally overnight. Although many of them are illegal structures, the government has tolerated the practice for many decades as an old law says that a house built overnight on public ground must not be torn down. The Turkish name for these neighbourhoods is “Gecekondu”, meaning “built overnight”. In a 2011 article in Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, called these shanty neighbourhoods the “most serious concern” of Istanbul. His aim and the aim of many other politicians has been to transform them into neater areas. Earthquake safety is another important issue to consider. TOKI has built almost 500,000 homes between 2003 and 2011, and the plan was to build another 500,000 by 2023, Erdoğan said to Hürriyet.

According to the latest market surveys (Dec 2011, June 2012) by German agency solrico, 52 % of the survey participants see multi-family houses as the fastest-growing segment in Turkey´s solar thermal market. Another 17 % consider single-family houses to be the most important segment, 14 % opted for the tourism sector, 10 % for the public sector and 7 % for industrial process heat.

An example of a very large public sector system can be found at the high-security Silivri Prison, which has been equipped with 3,500 m² of solar collectors (see photo above from Solimpeks). According to Gökalp, who delivered the collectors, it has been Turkey´s biggest solar thermal project so far.

Now, the company is exploring markets abroad: Solimpeks Kenya has just started collector production, using absorbers produced in the main factory in Turkey. Solimpeks is also selling to India, Iran, Nepal and Vietnam. According to Gökalp, the company’s sales volume in Germany, Italy and Spain is on the rise as well.

More information:
Ezinç: www.ezinc.com.tr
Ouraset: www.ouraset.com
Solimpeks: www.solimpeks.com
TOKI: www.toki.gov.tr
TOKI in Hürriyet: www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=toki-will-construct-another-500000-apartments-by-2023-turkish-pm-said-2011-03-04

Article about TOKI project from a more cautious point of view: www.tarlabasiistanbul.com/2011/03/the-house-that-toki-built/

This text was written by Eva Augsten, a German freelance journalist specialised in renewable energies ( augsten-at-solrico.com ).

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