Green is at the forefront of Ankara's ambitions

By Tom Lock

Ankara is a thriving, rapidly growing city. A new four-lane motorway slices the town open revealing, on one side, the beautiful ancient buildings the capital is famous for and, on the other, the more recent additions; the gleaming tower blocks and new public plazas that have sprung up in response to rapid industrialisation.  Growth, a concept currently unfamiliar to western economies, is taking hold in Turkey.

It’s a fact that economic growth equals rising energy use through higher consumer consumption. Simply put, as standards of living grow the workers inhabiting these new skyscrapers are earning more, consuming more and thus using more energy. Here in Ankara it’s an increasing trend. As an expert in Energy Efficiency, I’m here to assist the Turkish authorities implement EU legislation that will not only assist in cutting carbon emissions, but could prove vital in Turkey’s bid for EU ascension. My work is sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme, an organisation that promotes development through knowledge sharing; something I hope to do much of while I’m here.

It’s my job to assist with implementing two main EU Directives: the Energy Labelling Directive and the Eco-design for Energy related Products Directive. The EU directives work from the top down: the EU sets the legislation; the Turkish government has to implement the legislation; Government departments have to apply the details to their remits.

They have to work out who has to know what, and then they have to let them know what they have to do. Retailers, for example, have to understand their responsibilities and have to be able to talk to customers and suppliers about energy efficiency. It is a complex chain of operation where one small weakness can lead to disappointing results. A myriad of different cultures, different languages, different mind-sets, new legislation, and a sharing of knowledge – I feel privileged to be here at the start of something so worthwhile.

Turkey’s export market already understands the legislation that applies to them; now the domestic market now has to do their bit. Fifty per cent of television sets sold in Turkey are manufactured in Turkey and there is currently a low appetite for energy-efficient products. The hope is that greater awareness will cascade down from the EU directives which will, in turn, lead to increased consumer demand for the most energy-efficient goods.

When presented with two televisions, similar in all respects except that one is more energy-efficient, it is likely that a customer will choose the set that is cheaper to run. There are other aspects of energy-efficiency to learn – not leaving a device on standby, not falling into the trap of buying dozens of gadgets because you think you’ve saved energy on another gadget, and so on.

As mentioned before, knowledge exchange is a vital part of this work. When my Turkish colleagues visited the UK in November 2011 we went to the Intertek Laboratory in Milton Keynes, where technicians test white goods for energy efficiency as part of the Energy Saving Trust’s Recommended Certification scheme. It’s an excellent benchmark as Turkey doesn’t have a lab quite like this yet – but they were keen to learn.

Data is a crucial component of energy efficiency – measuring just how much energy a product uses and how much can be saved is vital. We at EST have spent years compiling and refining our evidence-based database in partnership with specialists. For Turkey, this reconnaissance mission is only the beginning. They will soon expand their own facilities and will no doubt share their experiences in due course. We also popped into the EST office at Dartmouth Street, so they could see the UK’s own energy-saving enthusiasts diligently at work.

I am due to return to Turkey for five weeks across April, May and June 2012 to continue the work. There is much yet to complete, I have to train 300 government officials in Energy Efficiency. My work is scheduled to run until the summer. Until then, I will enjoy every second I work with this wonderful country and wonderful people.