A Policy Recommendation on Upgrading Turkey’s R&D in Energy - Erkin Sancarbaba

Updated: Jan 10

As it is known, the evolution of energy production methods marks a new period of time in the energy sector. Within this context, the adaptation of Turkey to up-and-coming energy technologies is a national issue to make energy transition actual. Under current circumstances, the implementation of a new model to encourage and pioneer research and development activities has vital importance. This model should accelerate the R&D investments in nuclear and renewable energy by using our countries' financial sources most efficiently. Also, by implementing the aforementioned new model, Turkey can be an attraction center of qualified human capital and make progress on training capable personnel as well. The model that Turkey needs will be discussed comprehensively.

In the recent history of Turkey, it can be seen that there are a set of successful examples that can be served as a model, such as the improvement of the Turkish defense industry. Achieving the aforementioned success in the defense industry is came to realization with the well-planned set of policies that can also be implemented in the energy sector.

Under the regulations and fiscal rules that governments strictly implement, it is not likely possible to make R&D and innovative works successfully. Although it is acceptable that governments should act upon certain rules and principles, allowing flexibility on fiscal rules and decision making in designated areas such as R&D activities on energy production is crucial to thriving.

In the first stage, the method of managing the money which will be used as the investment capital should be clarified. As a recommendation, by creating the "energy industry investment fund," which can enable financial flexibility and promote taking the initiative, it is an obligation to exclude the institutions that will manage the fund from strictly adopted governmental budget keeping. It is also mandatory to form a mechanism that will enable the fund to have its income and flexible budget. Moreover, the possible exclusion of the fund from the Public Procurement Law and Public Fiscal Management Law (no. 5018) can accelerate the projects and production activities that the investment fund will finance. When it comes to the administration of the initiative, an executive committee (might be chaired by the President of Turkey) can take autonomous decisions. Through the mentioned fund management, allocating more money to R&D investments and human capital developments becomes inevitable.

Subsequently, gathering dispersed institutions and corporations which especially operate in the nuclear and renewable energy field and providing a collaboration atmosphere can make the technology and know-how transfer possible. On the other hand, in the current situation in Turkey, small corporations, which are independent of each other, allocate resources to research and development activities, whereas government agencies channel money into these ineffective R&D activities. The current policy ends up with disappointment due to the lack of cumulative practice and waste of resources. Consequently, an inclusive authority with a great prevalence to determine joint and comprehensive policy and control the R&D investments can ensure the efficient use of the sources and success of the research and development activities.

Furthermore, to attract human capital, the institutions and the public corporations that will carry out R&D investments and projects in the energy sector should not implement the salary and employment policies covered by the Turkish public personnel system. In conjunction with the unique and attractive wage regime, which is possible according to the Decree-Law no. 375, it can be highly possible to draw the attention of specially qualified personnel across our country and the world. Additionally, forming a reward system that will award those who contributed to the successful R&D projects on nuclear and renewable energy systems might increase the new generation's attention and motivate the qualified human power to have a part in these industrial developments.

Though there are pivotal developments, such as the establishment of the Turkish Energy, Nuclear, and Mineral Research Agency, these kinds of reorganization efforts are not adequate to determine a sustainable and promising policy. The aforementioned new model, stipulated by the current state of the Turkish energy sector, should be considered as a policy recommendation. The model that is examined has the potential to become successful in the case of developing long-term and rational policies for the future of Turkey.