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Energy Talks 4 - Esen Erkan Yıldız

With our Energy Talks series, we aim to bring together the experiences of experts operating in different fields of the energy sector.


In the fourth episode, we talked to Esen Erkan Yıldız, Secretary General of GÜNDER, about the latest developments in the field of solar energy, the outlook of the energy sector by civil society organizations, the role of the media in the sector, the methods he applies in his daily work, and the skills needed to work in the field of energy and climate in the future.


Gökberk Bilgin: Dear guests, welcome to another episode of Energy Talks. In this episode, our guest is Mrs. Esen Erkan Yıldız from GÜNDER. 


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Hello, thanks for having me, Gökberk.


Gökberk Bilgin: As you know, we start with a classic question in this event series. How did your interest in the energy sector start?


Esen Erkan Yildiz: Thank you very much. I think I am completing my 15th year in the sector. At the same time, I worked as a radio broadcaster, I prepared articles for magazines. On the one hand, with this love of writing and reading, I started preparing news for magazines in the energy sector and this started while I was reading. I was lucky, we are talking about the early 2010s when the energy sector was also active. It was an active period of privatizations, especially in the field of clean energy, when the tender process started. I somehow entered the energy sector with this curiosity of writing, about those subjects. Afterwards, it was a process that led to completely different places, to non-governmental organizations, and then to European Union projects. It is still going on, as you know. But perhaps the most important point here is this: When you work and do what you love while studying, you may find yourself somewhere in the energy sector, like me.


Gökberk Bilgin: Of course, when we talk about the energy sector, we are talking about a very wide area. Did you enter from the renewable energy side from the very beginning, or was there a tendency towards that side with the process? And how do you evaluate that process when we look at it since then? Especially the development of renewable energy, developments in the oil and natural gas sectors. We will touch on current issues later, but from your perspective when you started, how do you evaluate the change in the energy sector?


Esen Erkan Yıldız: It is a very good question, in fact, this point should be especially mentioned. Because with the transition to green energy systems, we didn't all suddenly start talking about climate, wind, sun, waste. In my process, especially natural gas, coal, hydroelectric power plants were all sources in most of the news I covered. This is actually what got me accustomed to the energy sector, what I like about it, and what could be different. I have to say that from the day you are born until the day you become an adult, you know that you are more predisposed to certain things. I was always aware that I was more predisposed to the renewable side of energy. But you learn this as you write and draw, read, write, talk and somehow cook with sector representatives. But I had a lot of interviews and news that I liked very much. Among these, there are also domestic coal producers and imported coal plants. Occasionally, there were also names in the natural gas sector that we made good news. LNG with shale gas was a hot topic at the time. I have actually absorbed them all at once, because the energy sector is a very broad field. But especially when I look at the past from today, my favorite areas of writing, which is not important whether you like it or not when you look at it from a journalist's point of view. It is important that you look objectively. My writings have always covered all aspects of the energy sector. But my fields of work have always been drawn towards cleaner energy sources. I think my work on European Union projects, associations and foundations has been very dominant. Whatever project we have written and managed, I have always done it with very good teams in every period of my life. We have always done things with them on the green side of things.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: We started to carry out projects for license-exempt electricity systems before the unlicensed ones were even established. We realized that this was not enough. We said, let's have a different dimension to this, let's move on to storage, the spectrum is very wide. There was a natural gas and oil part within that problem. From where we look today, of course, this field is still very much alive and retains all its power. Even though we may seem to be the lobby and lovers of this business, and even though we say green economy, green energy, there is a reality to this business. It is not possible to transform every field at once. All the political and economic developments we are currently experiencing show how strong our dependence on oil and gas is. The more dependent you are on imported energy resources, the more you are affected by political and economic developments. There is no country today that is not affected by this. But we have come to this age. It is already known that we can still talk about war, that we are unfortunately experiencing painful times. This can affect European countries, the US, very large economies or Turkey. This has shown us this. All the bad sides aside, it showed us very well why countries will need clean energy sources. Because it should no longer be seen as an imported resource, including this technology. Domestic companies that develop this technology now exist in almost every country and will continue to do so.


Gökberk Bilgin: You have touched on many issues one after the other and you talked about the coming of the war period, the importance of oil and gas and the continued development of renewable energy. This time last year, in the wind of COP 26, when people were fully supporting renewable energy, suddenly a lot of things had to change. When you look at it from the solar side, how did you evaluate this process, did you have a prediction in advance for such a crisis?


Esen Erkan Yıldız: In the energy sector, topics with very high popularity are actually doomed to shine and fizzle out in an instant. And of course, we are in such an era where the media and social media are powerful. When we look at COP 26, the largest delegation from Turkey went to the meeting in Glasgow. And it was good. Okay, the interest was very intense. That tells us something. The world is actually ready for this to gain popularity. But it needs capacity, human capacity. In terms of installation power. Which country will be able to keep up with this and how much? It's a race. At the end of the day, this is a race. When we look at it, we also say that it will increase by this much, up to 30 percent. Coal phase-out policies are being announced by European Union countries. But what you say is very true. On the one hand, there is a climate of war, and then there are economic fluctuations, declines, recessions. All your plans can really be disrupted in a day. It is very difficult to make politics sustainable in such an age. Maybe there were difficulties in the past ages as well. There were wars again. But this is a period of much colder wars. Even with a single word, you can put a sector under suspicion. Developments in the solar energy sector are bright. Surely, they have announced it very well, right? News is being shared. When I look at the past, there are periods when I remember that climate, wind, solar were not talked about so much. Now everyone wants to write and draw about these issues and produce projects. But when you look at it from the point of view that there is a lot of financial return in this business, when you move forward, you are interrupted somewhere. Look, of course, investments are progressing well in the solar sector today. Its popularity is high, but aren't there problems? There are. The road is very long. There is a lot of work to be done. Therefore, very serious steps should be taken. We have many EPC companies in the sector, and now, as the representative of GÜNDER, we have panel producers, to say nothing of Esen. We hear very good news and works, but the news that there are problems in the supply chain and professional inadequacies are still on our agenda. Improvements still need to be made in the legislation. For example, wind is a much more established sector. When we look at it, solar is closer to the public due to its structure, its installations are much easier, but it is also an area that needs to be scrutinized.


Gökberk Bilgin: Actually, you have touched on many different areas, and all of them require separate expertise. How do you go about keeping track of so many things? I mean, when you talk about solar, there is a financial dimension, there is a regulatory dimension, there are different dimensions. Now, there are serious increases in the prices of the materials needed to produce solar panels. You need to be able to evaluate and analyze many dynamics together. What kind of work pace do you maintain?


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Thank you very much for this question. Actually, since we have met you before, you know a little bit about the process. As a result of the education I received in this field, especially in the field of communication, I added a little bit of communication and a little bit of politics on top of the economy in terms of communication, and I think as a result of the fact that I love to read very much, I continued my education while working, as you did, especially in the fields of master's degrees. I think there is also a little bit of genetics. We are a family that loves such education and continuous learning. I think it also comes from there. Especially when I got involved in the energy sector, I realized that you need to read a lot to know some things. Since I am already a person who loves to read a lot, writing also gives me a lot of pleasure, so I researched and analyzed it non-stop. Today, when you look at it, there are many good publications about energy and there are many mediocre publications as well as many good articles. We have always tried to be more accurate channels to eliminate these and to eliminate information pollution. In the teams I worked with, thanks to them, I worked with very good journalists. We came together in very good trips and activities abroad, but I was always on the move while I was reading. I think this is a very important thing, it helps you learn while you are reading, but I think at least one source here is my background in non-governmental organizations. When I started, I started in the private sector. I started in the private sector. The energy sector is also in the news broadcasting section, but somehow I was already a part of civil society, I was always involved in membership volunteer work. So you learn a lot during those project activities. Running a project, at the same time coordinating its communication, organizing its activities, producing its final reports, gives you many things and skills in an instant. But I have to say this: I don't know everything, of course, I'm always learning. We can say that my interest in the energy sector stems from my interest in economics and politics.


Gökberk Bilgin Thank you very much. Of course, in accordance with your current position, you have a chance to closely follow and keep in touch with many companies. When we look at Turkey, where are we in the world in terms of solar energy? Where do we have advantages and where do we have disadvantages, how are our companies doing, what are their potentials, where are we in terms of competing with the world? Can you talk a little bit about this?


Esen Erkan Yildiz: Of course. I have been working at GÜNDER for 4 years. I have been working as the Secretary General for about three years. When we started 4 years ago, we continued with our European Union projects because we are an association that produces a lot of projects. We continue them on the one hand. But as you said, GÜNDER is a 30-year old association and we have gone through many stages in this history, just like TÜREB, our sister association in wind. When we look at GÜNDER today, many members have come and gone, they have gone through incredible processes. Because in certain periods, thermal systems were much more effective in the solar sector. Today, photovoltaics are ahead in the race. But of course they are also progressing. But there is of course a point where it stops in terms of future electrification as good as photovoltaics. For us, the most important part of your member profile is actually in the electricity generation dimension of this business. Panel manufacturers, EPC companies, consultancy companies, those working in the storage and R&D aspects of this business, various municipalities, public institutions and universities constitute our member profile. When we are in a very diverse field and you are an old association, the periods when you satisfy everyone can sometimes decrease. Of course, we also experience ups and downs, but we have always known this. During the 4 years I worked at GÜNDER, the solar sector has made incredible progress in Turkey. You know, where we look today, we see a solar share of up to eight percent in the installed power, and for the progress of this, we are going through a process in which the legislations are paving the way, a lot of progress has been made for the sun, from storage to integration into hybrid systems, and all public institutions and in fact the private sector, especially the private sector, we need to say them, we are going through a process in which valuable academic representatives put themselves at the forefront in this business and carry out studies. Of course, the popularity of this business sometimes creates problems. We have too many EPC companies. Most EPC companies in Turkey are not our members.


Esen Erkan Yildiz: I don't want to give room for misunderstanding there. Many EPCs, big companies and small companies are our local members, but of course it is in GÜDER's hands to observe how comprehensive their work is and how well they are doing, but we have difficulties at certain points. Because there is an incredible demand right now. At some points, our producers may experience difficulties in supplying their production under certain conditions. These are troublesome sides, but at the point we have reached in the world, Turkey is in a very important position. I always say this, sometimes we also go to seminars. We may be one of the countries that have missed technology at certain points, that have lagged behind at certain times. Let's say we may have lagged behind in the industrial revolution, but I think we have taken very good steps to ensure that we are not left behind in this era of transformation in the energy sector. Much clearer and more honest investments are needed for these to become a reality, for them to return to the country tomorrow and the next day as development. We are in a good position in the world. I would like to give this example: Today, our producers are more than 30 companies. Most of these are our member organizations in GÜNDER, but we know that about ten companies are working to establish factories. You have also received news of these. The important thing here is not to invest in this due to the popularity of the subject, but to make it sustainable. Because when we look at our panel producers, we see that there are factories of very veteran people who have given years to this business. These are the people who have brought very serious technologies to Turkey, who work with leading universities and professors for R&D activities. Therefore, it would not be a very realistic view to say that we have established a new panel factory and will contribute to the country. We need to make these sustainable. With today's potential, I can tell you this. Our factories are ready to supply the panels needed in the European Union. Because they do not have such a factory and infrastructure. This is a great power. Maybe there are times when we catch up with the train I just mentioned in technology, but Turkey has the capability to catch up in energy transformation. Yes.


Gökberk Bilgin: This is a very good thing to hear because we always talk about two big problems for solar energy. One is that solar energy is intermittent, and the other is that prices in Europe are going to get cheaper anyway. Since we are importing it, let's import it when it gets cheaper. But as far as you say, we have actually caught up with them in terms of technology with the recent studies.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: You made a very good point. Because of course it is good to consume the production side and this business from clean sources. But as I said at the beginning of our conversation, when you look at it economically, balances are very important. Of course, let's consume, but let's also produce and keep our chain wide. Let us develop these products and technologies as Turkey. Let's be aware of this power of ours. Then, of course, we can continue with roofs, energy cooperatives and factories. There is already a huge demand for consumers. These will increase. But the dimension of producing technology is a huge advantage for Turkey. We need to use this and we are doing well in this sense.


Gökberk Bilgin: One of the issues that attracted my attention the most is that there are too many associations in solar energy. In other words, people who do similar work, albeit in different fields, are trying to express themselves through different associations. Is this a communication problem or is it a necessity to have different organizations that can respond to different fields? Is this only in Turkey? Can't some problems related to such legislation be overcome? How do you evaluate the situation of NGOs in general?


Esen Erkan Yıldız: I have to say that you have very good analysis skills. First of all, we can actually put all three reasons. It is really difficult to be an association or a foundation in Turkey, and you know this very well. Since we are from the field, you are dealing with a lot of rules, documents and work that needs to be done. Of course, the companies in the sector are also an interlocutor here, but you know that there is a saying that it doesn't go down to eight, and we have it too. Now, for one thing, there is a lobbying activity in the associations, apart from everything else. This will always be the case. This is also the case in the world. I mean, we are members of many foreign associations and unions, and when we look at them, they also carry out lobbying activities within themselves, and so do we. However, depending on the dynamics of the country, its politics, and perhaps the strength of human relations and communication power, these lobbying activities can be stretched and sometimes hardened. We are perhaps many associations that actually suffer from these. It is a very good thing that there is a colorful association structure, but these fractures can be a bit corrosive. I can say it like this. As Esen, we are brothers with all of them, we are in contact with all of them. We do a lot of work together. But when you look at this question from an outsider's point of view, we are also very separated. If you have noticed, we have been very oriented towards doing joint business in the solar sector, especially in the last few years, in order to eliminate this separation.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: We do activities together. We also do seminars like we do with you. Let's say some associations attract members who are particularly focused on much bigger, let's say investments. Yes, let the big investors be there. Let's say some associations have much better analysis skills and contribute to the sector with their analysis. Yes, we also support them. Let's say some of them are perhaps like us. They are very good at managing European Union projects, their staff is developed in this sense. We take care to be a stakeholder in them. This diversification is actually good, but it should not be assumed that we are doing separate work. You look and see that there is something in the legislation. We hold joint meetings. We all sit down and talk about how we can improve things. This is a platform. When the time comes, you also become organizations where not everyone can get the same taste. They leave, go to another association, move to a foundation. These are normal processes. These things need to be a little bit from the heart, but when we look at it, sector associations, especially in the field of energy, regardless of the field, that is, natural gas, coal, sun, wind, it does not matter. These are members with commercial activities. In other words, these are not associations that are just about nature, about protecting people and animals. When there is profit maximization, there are conversations, public opinion creation, and conflicts at a certain point. Therefore, their profiles may shift to other associations.


Gökberk Bilgin: So when we look at the legislation side, what is the level of influence of NGOs right now? I mean, I can see a lot from LinkedIn, you can make these processes a little easier, so that many unlicensed companies can enter, so that we can do more things as soon as possible, or a system that can allow consumers to trade within themselves should be established as soon as possible so that we can benefit from it, but on the other hand, the established order also needs to be developed in accordance with this. So how do you evaluate the situation there?


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Actually, there have been very serious investments in the solar energy sector, especially since 2019. The history of this goes back a long, long time ago. Here, as young people, we need to underline the following: There are very valuable representatives who have devoted themselves to this business and have been working on legislation for many years. It was not just a case of snapping our fingers and let's all invest in solar energy, let's increase unlicensed energy, let's focus on self-consumption. That is why we have come to this point with the very valuable contributions of people who will be seen here when looking at the sector. But I can say that associations such as GÜNDER have a great impact on legislation and functioning with their members. Even today, we have two or three meetings a month, where we sit down and hold meetings with draft regulations, opinions, the data we present, and we personally arrange meetings for them, and decide what and how we will organize them. We also meet with other associations. When we look at today, we see that we have associations that are not only in solar, but also associations that deal with the legal dimension of this issue and seek the rights of the unlicensed. There are also those working specifically for the storage dimension. You have also said that today, of course, clean energy sources, solar and wind are very popular in the world. They are very popular in the world. Maybe 10 years ago, some people would have turned their noses up at the idea that they could become what they are today. Today, however, it is making very serious progress. But when we look at this in terms of legislation, there are very deep issues. Not only the installation of the unlicensed, but how will the storage dimension of this work be? You will put it somewhere, it will not be agricultural land. And if there will be a roof, how will that roof be? Because these are investments that need to be considered in many, many, many dimensions.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Look, for example, a wind investment offers you very serious megawatts of installed power when you install larger investments, larger turbine systems on a piece of land due to economies of scale. In solar, on the other hand, small investments, imagine those photovoltaic systems that are finely crafted, but behind that, security is again at the forefront. Naturally, we are very fine-tuning the legislation. Before 2019, there were very serious contributions, but the roof revolution took place in 2019, as you know, starting from May. These went well. Were there any setbacks? Of course there were. But many association representatives will agree with me today. We see that very good OIZs are making SPP series investments, especially OIZs, municipalities and universities are evolving into these investments. We did not say that the number of households is that much. Of course, your financial power must be more sufficient to get down to this. We always say that sector representatives going abroad, especially to Germany, say, "Have you seen the roofs?" when we go to Intersolar. We also want to, but in order for Turkey to be able to do this, the economic power of the households should have a stronger income, and they should breathe more easily. We offer good points, opinions on hidden legislation, but we are much more open. There are also developments that we expect, but it is a bit slow. This should also be underlined. GÜNDER always has a dominant role in the process of these legislations, but of course, what we say is not always what we say, but it should be underlined.


Gökberk Bilgin: Of course, now you mentioned those technologies. A person who wants to invest from scratch is very interested in these issues and cares a lot about energy transformation. Where do you see opportunities? I mean, if you had the opportunity to invest, where would you invest?


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Yes, this is a very good question. I can answer it in my own field. As far as I understand your question, we are not talking about a very wide range of suns from my point of view, but we are actually talking about this energy transformation. The term we call energy transformation spreads over a very wide range, apart from all the expressions it has entered into popular culture. This is a process of electrification, but this process does not tell you to constantly produce electricity, spend electricity, consume electricity. It says to use it more efficiently. Therefore, from where we look at it, it's very important for everyone to suddenly say that there is a lot of money in this business, there is a return, to make investments, to establish EPC companies or to open panel factories, of course, but let's refer to the previous question. If it will be sustainable, these should be opened, and they should be continued. This is important. I underline this by saying that it is important to see where you are good at. Your team, the training you have received, maybe you are very good in the R&D aspect of this business, then you need to meet with companies that do R&D, with academia, establish communication and take action. Turkey has very good companies. Especially in technoparks, which I also follow, there are people working in good neighborhoods and they are dealing with incredibly good technologies. We need to reach out to them. We need to think more broadly than just saying that there is money, let's build a SPP on a land, on a roof, or put a tribune there. There are smart grids. With smart grids, we really need much clearer control of distribution systems, the leakages, losses and transportation problems in electricity must be solved. It can evolve into this, monitoring systems, automations, these are the requirements of our age, digital transformation has taken over. Integrating energy into these smart systems is an area where people are already working.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: We need to think about these things. And most importantly, you said it yourself. These are intermittent resources. These are not resources that we can always produce energy. But there are many representatives trying to solve this with storage. We need to support them. Maybe we need to be a fund, a sponsor, not to leave young people and academia alone in this sense. Let me give a good example today. Very good projects are being developed here on the agricultural side. Projects in which we are also a partner will be realized. We will share announcements about this in the near future. It is so beautiful. I mean, this is a subject that is sometimes misunderstood by the public. You know, why are you destroying agricultural land with solar power plants? There is no such thing when it is suitable for agriculture. If this is done, it is already wrong, but we need to examine how such a power plant was approved. The process is going like this right now. You can produce very good products on a fertile land at the bottom. You are developing your agriculture. At the top, you produce your electricity and make agricultural irrigation from it. The world is dealing with this right now. R&D activities in Turkey have also focused on this. I can say this. We need to be hopeful. Things may be progressing a bit slowly in our country, but we have very, very good, intelligent works. It is very important that these people full of intelligence are funded, financially, I mean materially and spiritually, and not left alone. In other words, it is not the right perspective to get into this business because there is a lot of money in the sun. If you are not good at it, let the good people do it.


Gökberk Bilgin: In fact, in our conversation, which you basically brought to the topic of holding these events, we are working on how we should organize our education system today in order to reach the net zero target in 2053. What is the situation in human resources? Can someone coming out of university be adequate at the moment? As far as I have heard, many companies are not very satisfied with this, frankly. In other words, they say that they cannot develop sufficiently and that the adaptation process can take too long. Of course COVID has an impact on this. I mean, there were a lot of people who studied remotely in this process. But where should we focus in education? What do you need the most, what attracts your attention the most in this sector?


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Yes, when I look at this again from my own field, I look at it from the energy policy dimension, the media dimension, the communication dimension. But we work a lot in this field, especially in European Union projects. As an association, you know where there is a deficiency in the sun in a professional sense. We are an organization that has been working very hard since the past general secretariats since the past administrations on how to solve this issue. Therefore, it is necessary to say these things by giving them their due. It is one of the issues that has been discussed and dealt with a lot for about 8-10 years. If you are interested in the sector, you are already improving yourself somehow while studying. But let's say you don't have much curiosity and you say, let me earn my money, get my salary and live like that, the energy sector is not a sector that can handle such inactivity. The energy sector is a very tense sector. Now, when you look at it, especially for the renewable energy sector, which we are in, I mean for a moment, including Sundays, it is a sector where you should not miss the legislation, you should follow it constantly. You have to have an open eye, you have to love reading. You need to listen to people well to communicate properly. You may not always know everything. You need to ask, you need to learn. Here, especially, if they want to take part in the equal sector from their university days to today, friends, I know that their lessons are heavy, I know that life is much more maybe overlapping, student finals, midterms and so on. But we need to underline this. The best times are those years when you learn the best and when your brain absorbs information like a sponge, so to speak. Therefore, even if you don't know how your career will go in those periods, whatever you like, whatever sector you are interested in, you should start after you get used to the university in the second third year. It is necessary to do things in a much broader perspective that will make you happy, not just adapting yourself to the lessons and completing the curriculum, getting a 4.0 average, getting into the eyes of the professors.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Let me give you an example. I love the energy sector very much, but there are many other things I love besides the energy sector. For example, music is a field I love very much and I always wanted to work in this field, but it brought me to the sector in a sense. Believe me, even taking part in a small theater production during your university years will tell you why you enjoy it in the future. Does the education system in Turkey allow for this, for example? This also follows from your question. I can say very clearly that it does not allow this. We are all like fish out of water. We also graduated. Although I tried to get used to the sector, I realized that there were times when you had a lot of difficulty while studying. Our friends are also struggling and will struggle. Especially it wore us all out. The process is also difficult for them. But while I was studying, there were people who contacted companies, contacted us, and even came to the association when the time came. Courage is very important. These are very important activities. You see, it is very important to not only focus on your GPA, but also to write, draw and travel the things you love in life. Let me say that too. Exploring is very important, getting to know people, these will improve you. I think one of the biggest problems in the energy sector is that there is miscommunication, and the GPA comes to the company. For example, a child with a 3.80, who has been trained as a very good engineer, but for example, he may not understand the work given? Why? Because he focuses himself only on this, he doesn't know how to listen to you. That's why you need to leave yourself alone and be calm. Then I think companies can also see your self-confidence and act accordingly. I would like to appeal to private sector companies not to wear out their young colleagues. The public sector is the same. As a result, they all have a gem. The important thing is to be able to reveal that ore.


Gökberk Bilgin: Someone who wants to do a study on the energy sector realizes that they need to master the basics in more than one discipline before they reach the fifteenth minute of their study. So how can we do this? I mean, if you were given a say in education and they said we will do whatever you say, what would you do differently? What kind of change would you want in the university?


Esen Erkan Yıldız: I would definitely bring the concept of interdisciplinarity to all undergraduate and vocational schools, regardless of whether they are good associate degrees. I mean, let's say a child is studying energy systems engineering, okay, let him/her study, but it is necessary to create such an opportunity so that on the one hand, we can open his/her eyes to the world abroad, especially in the processes we have experienced in European Union projects, you know, trips abroad, integrated activities with other institutions, other schools, opening his/her eyes, in the best, clearest terms, showing the world to the child. These are very important. To show them that they are not alone, that energy systems engineering can represent more than just energy production. Today, we are a country that ratified the Paris Agreement, albeit late. We keep saying Paris Agreement, Paris, Paris, but maybe children don't know about it. Maybe the child turns out to be an engineer, but when the name of an institution is mentioned, we can say it here: TEDAŞ, TEİAŞ, EÜAŞ, when you separate them, which one serves which purpose? Maybe he doesn't know these. What are the duties, powers and responsibilities of each institution? You can go and talk, representatives from the sector can come from there, I actually like these TedX talks very much. Imagine if these had a place in the curriculum, think of the amphitheaters, students still come, but if these were more frequent, if sector representatives met with students in person, don't just think of it as career days activities. If they teach the lessons, there are processes and reports to learn, especially in these climate-related issues. For these, especially for educators to follow every new report, associations like ours can perhaps help them. We can create footnotes, keywords or infographics. We are doing good things, but sometimes they are disconnected from each other. The most important thing in the curriculum, but when you suffocate children in class and make them only deal with grades, midterms, homework, finals, etc., these children suffocate. I think people also need to show them how to live life. This includes us. As I said, I'm not sure if you can really go to a career without traveling, seeing, just reading, writing and working at a desk. Maybe everyone has shortcomings in this life, but at least you can't be happy, let's put it that way.


Gökberk Bilgin Thank you. Of course, you are actually the editor of two very important magazines, one of which is GÜNDERGİ and the other is Energy Panorama published by the Energy Foundation of Turkey. You are also doing important work on issues that actually explain the energy sector and try to inform people. How do you evaluate the development here?


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Journalism, in fact, has always been the area that I have enjoyed the most. Maybe it's not a very good thing, especially when you work on the civil society side, but we just said, let them act interdisciplinary, let them read, write. This also falls into that subject. You need to do a little bit of everything. Sometimes I am a good publisher, but since it was the first thing I did, it is actually my most valuable job in the sector. When we first launched the magazine, we were one of the few magazines in that field, especially in the name of Energy Panorama, and we launched it together with my esteemed journalist brothers and sisters. They are still doing very good work. I learned the job from them, apart from the training I received, and we published very serious good issues. The other day I had to review the data again for some reason. When I look at the covers, I mean, the best ones are the news publications that talk about energy transformation 8-10 years ago, and when we look at today, when we look at many of these energy outlook reports, there are very valuable guest authors and academics who give their predictions, and when the articles we write today are realized 10 years later, when it reaches 30 percent, 40 percent, maybe we will say green energy sources, we will say that we said the right things. Because if scientific analysis and writings are done correctly, they tell the truth. GÜNDERGİ and Enerji Panorama are actually the publications we are trying to do this. As you know, most of the people inside, we have very valuable representatives and writers. However, the Bilkent team is also inside GÜNDERGİ. You also have very valuable articles. Frankly, I am proud.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Especially young people's sensitivities about energy, climate and the environment, putting them in writing, being able to translate them correctly, and being able to analyze them. Because you have data in front of you, but if you don't analyze it correctly, those data, those numbers have no meaning. What you read cannot be just numbers. You need to say something specific in the article. Here at GÜNDERGİ and Panaroma, we have always tried to say something. We have been working for years to avoid being one of those publications that only smell of advertisements or press releases. These are very common now. The media is incredibly crowded. There are very good publications in the energy sector, but as I said at the beginning, there is also a lot of information pollution. It is very important to follow the right publications here, but we will do it together. We also have our mistakes, it is said, but sometimes we also have deficiencies in the publications. It is not possible to get it right all the time. Accepting the mistake and trying the right journalism once again, this may actually be one of the suggestions for young friends. Because you learn the right thing by making mistakes. But the media side is going well, just one anecdote, the side where magazines are printed now seems to be a bit outdated. You may remember that we had a conversation before we started the event. I still look at the subject a bit old-fashioned. I love to be able to pick up and read the books and magazines, but this business has now moved to the e-magazine dimension. That's why you can already see it in the magazines, we act a little bit in this dimension. We need to be economical with paper, maybe that's the right thing to do. Let's say that too. 10 years ago it wasn't like this. They wanted to see the magazines on the table.


Gökberk Bilgin: By the way, as Bilkent team, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much for including our articles published in Synergy in your magazines.


Gökberk Bilgin: We have both our professors and friends whose articles are published. They are also very happy.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Thank you very much. We appreciate your efforts. Always full support, let me put it that way, whenever you want.


Gökberk Bilgin: Thank you very much. Of course, on the one hand, when we talk about the media, the level of people reading too much is slowly decreasing. So we try not to exceed 5-6 articles, especially in Synergy. Because, you know, it will not be read, if we add fifteen articles, it will not mean much. We think that people should at least see 5-6 things and then move on. I don't know if it's right or wrong, but for a weekly publication, which way will think tanks evolve in reports, infographics or social media strategies from now on? What kind of preparations can we make now? As Bilkent, I am in private contact with you, you are also supporting us in this regard, and I would like to thank you. What are your views in general?


Esen Erkan Yildiz: Now, of course, the media has taken a completely different turn in COVID. Of course, we loved social media, websites, but with the force, that loneliness, perhaps withdrawal, fear, of course, especially fear, caused people to look more individually. Therefore, more individual activities became more popular. When I look at it like this, there have been very good digital works, but we seem to have missed the point a bit. You gave a very good example of such scrutinizing and reading, turning thick pages and taking notes on them and not reading much on post-its. Since you, like me, are someone who likes to take part in the academic dimension of this work, we know very well that those theses are written and they have to be done that way. For example, those master's theses and doctoral theses are not done without reading them. Maybe it's okay for people who love it, but you don't expect everyone to give their time like you do. I know people who read less. No matter how powerful a platform social media is, it is a place that is open to information pollution, manipulation and people can hurt each other a lot. Untrue information can spread in an instant. They are also dangerous places. Therefore, the biggest part of the strategy is really, you know, let me reach a lot of followers, let tens of thousands, 30 thousands follow me, let them follow my organization. Looking at it from this point of view leads to a mistake. There is no rule that everyone will be interested in the energy sector or the work of your organization. Nor should they be. Let those who know and love a subject, a specialty, follow it so that better progress can be made. Sometimes it is right to be concise. In this sense, it is very important not to focus on the number of followers. Let's say you have nothing to say. There is not much movement in the sector that day, you don't have to say anything. For example, now you know that there is a field called social media expertise, and I don't know exactly how much this is chosen as a profession as a specialization.


Esen Erkan Yildiz: I can understand communication expertise, but only social media expertise can be a bit like soap operas. I respect the friends who do this, but I think they should develop themselves in other areas, because today there is Twitter, there is Instagram, but in the past there was also Facebook. Today, for example, it is not a field of interest for institutions, the field for institutions is LinkedIn. Especially some of the institutions have Instagram and Twitter. But these will perhaps be replaced by another platform after a certain period of time. Therefore, it is important to be able to look more broadly at communication channels and the most important thing is to be able to use good digital devices in the digital world. You may be a good Instagram user, you can use very good stories, but I underline it again. If you don't have anything to say that day, you don't necessarily have to tell your followers that you are here every day. This point of view does not suit the policies or direction of an organization. But there is nothing to say about individual users. Of course they will do as they wish. But if you are an organization, you have to act accordingly. I can say this especially because I manage the social media part of the organizations I am involved in. It has never misled me. Obviously, we have always received the right reactions. Because we didn't focus on these, maybe, as I said, there is Zoom, there is another such PR platform. It is not a moderator, but several moderators, for example, we are 5 people in the office, 5 people can also use Zoom, Microsoft Teams can also be entered into Microsoft Teams, it is especially important for small teams to be equivalent. Someone does not necessarily have to do everything. I can say this especially in civil society. But I have always liked face-to-face meetings much more. I hope we can get rid of COVID completely and do them again.


Gökberk Bilgin Exactly, since both offices are in Ankara, we can organize our meetings.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: We need to combine and organize an event on a beautiful campus.


Gökberk Bilgin: Absolutely. Now we are entering the last ten minutes. Our participants and guests can write questions on chat if they have any. You actually started to partially answer my last question. How does a day at GÜNDER go? How can a person who is interested in working in this field, in NGOs, prepare themselves? Can you briefly talk about that? How is your working tempo? What do you pay attention to?


Esen Erkan Yildiz: Of course, with pleasure. I have been noticed, those who know me know. I'm a bit active, I'm a bit quick on my feet. But everyone's genetics are different. I think this is also reflected in my professional life. How does a day at GÜNDER go by? We are a small team at GÜNDER. I have 4 friends whom I love very much. Sometimes there are 10-15 people who are in close contact with the teams we work with from outside. Actually, let's say people we see and talk to every week, but there are five of us in the office, including me. We have a sweet little office. Every morning we actually start the day with a little chat, coffee therapy. But we don't always go to work with a smile on our faces, with our opium popping. Our sector is a very intense sector with high tension. You see that messages have come from somewhere at night, legislation has changed. There are times when I go in the early hours of the morning and start writing articles either with the team or by myself. But again, as I said at the beginning, this does not upset me because I am an active person. Sometimes you have to stay overnight, you go on weekends. The work at GÜNDER does not continue at the same rhythm every day. If you work in civil society, sometimes you have to take a hand in every job. At the end of the day, you also use WordPress. You see that the designer has a long job. You and your friends can deal with Photoshop at the same time. It is necessary to develop many different programs and skills at the same time, which does not happen all at once. But if you work for an association or a foundation, you need to understand a little bit of all of them.


Esen Erkan Yildiz: Most of our team are people who already understand all of them. But I especially like scanning legislation, reading the Official Gazette that day, these are areas I have loved since my years as a reporter. I open an official gazette immediately, let me tell you that. You know, sometimes they open it on news portals. We look at an official newspaper. My reporter friends will understand this very well. I see what we have. Then, if there is news to be written, you know that we have a Solar platform beforehand, apart from the legislative notifications that go to the members of GÜNDER every seven days, their notifications are made to the members first, and then I prepare the news for Solarist. I am definitely doing a news scan. Then we gather with our friends again, we take that coffee break. Our project work is very intense in our association. What and how we need to do in projects, phone calls, company visits when necessary, and you know the budget burdens in projects are very heavy. In European Union projects, we spend a little bit of time on invoices and how to solve them. Of course, apart from looking after the communication part of the association, since I am the general secretary of the association, I am also involved in DERBIS, ministry affairs, and a little bit of liaison with the public outside of the legislation. But I can say that everything was very enjoyable in the end. I mean, when I observe the understanding of working in the private sector or public institutions, if you work with the right team in civil society, your days are very happy.


Gökberk Bilgin Thank you very much. I'll ask my last question. You mentioned that you look at the official gazette. So what else might be useful to look at for those who want to get to know this sector more closely? Are there any newspapers that you follow regularly? There may be sources from abroad. Or if you have suggestions that you can say, I like this author's book very much, I recommend it, we would also like to hear them.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Beyond being interested in these works, I have always been a person who is prone to language and loves language since my student years. I have always wished that I could learn more languages if I had the time. That's why I think I've always read a lot of foreign publications, which introduced me to newspapers and magazines that work internationally. In a sense, we tried to improve our expenses by reading, analyzing, translating and translating their content, and we actually took the right paths. I can say this because Bilkent has progressed in this way. Look, for example, although the International Energy Agency was an agency established for fossil fuels at the time, today it is an organization that produces very good renewable energy reports. At the same time, it has very valuable representatives. There are very important names represented in our country. It is very proud. You know IRENA and REN21, which works in the field of renewable energy, are very old organizations, you know there is ISES. GÜNDER is already represented in Turkey. It is a very, very old organization. When we look at both thermal and solar, there is the International Energy Agency SHC, Solar Power Europe. For example, these are indispensable agencies and institutes for those who follow the green side of the energy sector.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: There are think tanks and I would like to mention EMBER as one of them. I would like to mention its representative in Turkey, Ufuk. SHURA is also one of our stakeholders and they prepare very important reports. Değer made very valuable publications in his time. Now Alkım and her team and Hasan are carrying out very good work. As you know, there is ECG, the European Climate Foundation, which also has representation in Turkey, and their support is also very valuable for green energy. Their valuable representatives in Turkey are currently working with both GÜNDER and many other organizations. Solarbaba consists of my very dear friends. They are also making very good publications and very valuable publications and magazines, whose names I have forgotten, are developing in the sector. 10 years ago, these things were not like this. Today, it is a source of pride to be able to talk about these things and to see these think tanks in Turkey. I would like to single out think tanks that are integrated into universities, especially think tanks such as yours, and METU GÜNAM, which I attach the utmost importance to in the field of energy. Because they also have very valuable R&D studies. They are also a great team. Following them and reaching them is accessible to everyone on LinkedIn. Maybe I can especially say that for our young friends. Contacting them will enable everyone to add color to energy.


Gökberk Bilgin Thank you very much, Ms. Esen, for your valuable time for this pleasant conversation.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Thank you very much, I hope we didn't bore you. We didn't offend anyone.


Gökberk Bilgin: I mean, I hope we didn't bore them, but I think it was very enjoyable. Barış Sanlı also thanks us. I think there are no questions at this stage.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Thank you very much, Barış always supports us with his writings. I would like to thank the whole team for their interest in these publications.


Gökberk Bilgin: We also thank Barış for this regard. He always supports us no matter what the circumstances. If it wasn't for him, we probably wouldn't have gotten even halfway to where we are now. We thank him. We also thank you very much for your valuable participation. Goodbye, we hope to meet again in another conversation. I hope we will welcome you face to face at our university. Thank you very much everyone, good evening.


Esen Erkan Yıldız: Good evening, see you. Thank you very much.

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