Turkey: Konya Karapinar Coal Fields Ready For Thermal Power Plant Investment – OpEd


The Turkish Mineral Research & Exploration Institute (MTA) publicly announced in 2007 that aa new important lignite coal field was discovered in Karapinar County of Konya Province, Mid Anatolia.

The coal is very similar to Afsin Elbistan reserves. Available coal in Konya Karapinar is technically challenging in content with low calorific heating value (LHV) at about average 1,374 (within a range of 1,300- 1,500) kcal per kg, and elementary analysis approximately with 46-49% moisture, 19-22% ash, and 2-3.5% in sulphur content.

Large domestic coal reserves are also waiting for exploitation in nearby vast Afsin Elbistan basin, also in Adana Tufanbeyli and Konya ILGIN.

We can have sustainable, environmentally friendly electricity generation with clean coal technologies and also gain positive social impact on our economy.

These expectations are not so easy with today’s market logic. A Master Plan for the regional development must be prepared for the region.

Master Plan should cover a region of Konya Karapınar, Elbistan, Adana Tufanbeyli, even Sivas Kangal lignite coal mines.

The Karapınar lignite coal mine was discovered in the past few years. We were advised by local media sources that there are a number of seriously interested investors already mobilized to exploit the new coal resources.

The coal mine is in a remote area, with scarce population and limited agricultural activity nearby.

For investment options, we can evaluate leasing, public investment, tendering, public-private partnership (PPP), Build-Operate (BO) and Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) models.

PPP seems an appropriate provided that we integrate into a major Master Plan.

We have 1.6 billion metric tons of lignite coal proven reserves in the field with vast economic value, to be exploited mostly with open pit mining technologies at 6.54 m3/ton overburden ration to enable to build total 6000 MWe thermal power plant in the end, within proven 30 years of mine depletion period.

Ball-park figures allow us to estimate US$ 1.7-2 cost per cubic meter of coal, covering a total of US$ 6.50-7.0 for coal stripping/overburden plus other expenses that can be done at about total of US$ 9.00 per ton coal (EUAS) or approximately  1.65 US$ per MMBTU, leading to final electricity generation cost of approx. gross 7.0 U.S.cent per kWh.

Ball-park maximum total US$ 2 billion investment for each 1400 MWe TPP unit designed to latest clean coal technology, may be paying off in approximately less than 8-10 years with overall 33% plant efficiency, at 6500 hours of total operation per year.

That is electricity generation from our own resources. No need for imports. There is no negative impact on Current Account Deficient (CAD).

In this project, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model could be developed, since public can handle certain major problems, such as water supply, river bed changes, relocation of local people, project guarantees.

High moisture content in available coal makes Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) technology very difficult to implement.  New clean coal technologies can be applied.

Hence Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), oxy-firing, underground gasification technologies should be investigated.

The Treasury had previously received government-to-government guaranteed loans. Today such loans are no longer applicable.

Today’s most popular financing is “Non-recourse” financing application. In this model, a project company is formed separate from investors; it is established by calculating the life of the project and the costs of credit given to the project company. So that project cost does not affect the sponsors’ own budgets.

There are many local engineering companies who can use the latest available clean coal technologies.

There are also reputable local universities who are using academic version of thermal power plants software within an increment of the commercial application with one important precondition that they should mention the name of the software in their academic articles.

We have many new M.Sc. and Ph.D. dissertations which used the academic thermal power plant design softwares.

Karapınar lignite has to be enriched by moisture capture prior to pulverize firing. That could be via drying or by Electro Static Precipitator (ESP) applications, or any other means.

CFB is possible but we also need enrichment up to 2000 kcal/kg LHV, or 3000 BTU/lb HHV. Available references elsewhere are not compatible with the coal.

Similarly IGCC needs further academic investigations prior to any commercial applications.  Oxy-fuel is theoretically possible but we do not have any reliable practical research.

Please do note that those foreign off-the-shelf foreign designs are obsolete, they do not work. East Asian supplies are worse. Cheap East Asian workforce is not available anymore due to changes in the local legislation to promote more local employment.

Locals are to concentrate themselves into their own design of steam generators specially created for their own local lignite.

Do not rely on foreign financing which will advise their obsolete lignite firing technologies. They did not work in the past; hence they will not work in future.

In Karapınar, Clean Coal Technologies can create great opportunity for all interested local parties to enable them to learn from past mistakes, to investigate possible/ applicable technologies plus implementation of applicable “non-recourse” financing schemes, to investigate and assess available intellectual capability of the local human resources.

Local Coal is our future for our energy security; therefore we need to allocate more academic and commercial funds in order to have more research on design and development of local fuel resources that will enable to fire available local coal best in our own design thermal power plants. Happy and Prosperous New Year to you all!


Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *