The Oxford Business Group observed that while energy sectors worldwide scramble for first place in the race to discover new energy sources, Turkey has also been looking ahead in its energy policy. With demand growing, energy is increasingly dictating both government domestic thinking and the country's international relations. The recently drafted Vision 2023 program is a significant moment in this process, as it represents the first time the country has tried to set out a clear research and development scheme for energy. At the same time, some argue that Turkey already holds natural resources that could place it in the lead when it comes to a future energy technology with great potential - fuel cells. As Turkey's economy grows, its demand for energy has naturally been growing with it. Presently, Turkey imports 60% of its energy needs, and this figure, analysts say, will rise to 70% in 2010 and to 80% by 2020. High energy prices in recent years clearly make these statistics worrisome for Ankara, which some years back also concluded there was a growing gap between Turkey's energy supply and demand. This drove Ankara to develop closer ties to the energy producing states of the Caspian region and the Middle East, with new oil and natural gas contracts with Russia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iran and even Iraq. Yet this resulted in a short-term oversupply problem, particularly for gas, alongside allegations of corruption against previous administrations which had favored contracts with one or other country. Yet whatever the case, the longer-term problem remains. There has never been a more necessary time for Turkey to develop its own sustainable fuel energies, a factor which some are now addressing. Turkish home-electronics giant Vestel recently announced that they had invested $10m to compete with GE and Philips in designing their own range of fuel technologies, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reported last month. In late July 2005, the company also unveiled one of the fruits of this - a fuel cell, a device aimed at replacing the traditional electric battery. The company believes their latest design, which could power a house or small business premises, will be on the market as soon as 2007, with field trials set to begin in 2006. The unit uses hydrogen from natural gas to produce electricity and hot water. It is no bigger than a domestic central heating boiler, and is capable of supplying energy while most importantly, making no carbon emissions. Vestel's design is unique in that the hydrogen is supplied from sodium boron hydride, which is convenient for Turkey given it possesses some 75% of the world's known boron reserves. Intel have now got wind of what Vestel have been up to and are so impressed that the US chip manufacturer has invited the Turkish electronics giant to present its designs. A second unit also built by the Turkish company, which is said to be able to power mobile phones and laptops for up to two weeks, has also caught the eye of Intel. Key to all this in Turkey's energy research and development program is the Marmara Research Centre (MRC), which is under the wing of the Scientific & Technical Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK), the oldest and largest research institute in the country. The MRC is at the core of the recently completed Vision 2023 program. This program sets out what it sees as the critical technologies and areas that will help the continuing economic growth of the country. These key areas include: fuel cells for transportation, stationary and portable applications, hydrogen internal combustion engines and hydrogen production and storage technologies. The implementation plan of the program will be finalized by September 2005 for its official start in 2006. As part of the 2023 program, a dynamic Research Information System (ARBIS) has been developed in order to facilitate the collection of research by university personnel, public- and private-sector establishments in Turkey, and Turkish researchers serving abroad. Some analysts believe that with this pro-active approach towards technology, Turkey could fare well in the future as a major player in the sustainable energy market. Yet while a revolutionary way of thinking may well be needed for a groundbreaking energy supply, only time will tell whether Turkey's vision is truly clear. (OBG03.08) http://www.atid-edi.com/fnarchive/bw20050810.htm#11.6 What should be done? Prof. Naci Görür, the chairman of TUBİTAK Marmara Research Center, lists the issues that need to be addressed in the boron sector: 1.Turkey only produces borates. In 1999, income of $ 237 million was received from borate exports. Turkeys market share in borates is estimated at 25% and this has to be improved. 2. Most of the sodium perborate is consumed within the country. Turkey should take its play in the 242,000 ton European B2O3 market. Obtaining 10% share in this market would yield Turkey an additional income of almost half of her existing exports. 3. Borane is a product, consumption of which is expected to increase 4% every year. The most important consumer of this product is the paper industry in Europe. Obtaining 10% share in this market would yield Turkey an additional income of almost half of her existing exports. This product is light in bulk but high in value. In order to produce borane, Turkey needs to complete its research into marketing, feasibility and cost minimizing technology/processes at once. 4. To utilize the ore efficiently, it is vital for Turkey to adopt contemporary high technology, not only in mining but also in marketing and production, and strengthen its leading role in the world market. New products should be incorporated in line with market research results and with the help of a marketing network. Special emphasis should be taken in cost minimizing and quality maximizing measures, both of which will increase the bargaining power of the country. 5. Since Turkey would need to develop its own know-how in this area, adequate importance should be given to Research & Development activities. 6. Measures that would lower costs, improve quality and diminish the waste problem should be found for both, existing and future production plants. Instant R&D activities should be carried on the priority issues in accordance with these cost-benefit analyses. 7. Technology should be developed in order to utilize the low tenor ores and the boron that is wasted in the current process. 8. The results of R&D activities should be transformed to new profitable production lines immediately. Fuel Battery Input Some automotive companies are carrying on projects, where hydrogen is used as a fuel alternative to petroleum, aiming eventually to solve the pollution problem. In this context, hydrogen fuel used in space rockets is being tried in some prototype cars. However, it is as dangerous as moving a bomb because of storing problems. Firms are trying to find ways of eliminating these costs. According to Assoc. Prof. Ersan Kalafatoğlu, borane plays a central role in avoiding the explosiveness problem. Borane, which is found in hard form, provides a way of storing and using hydrogen. The Millenium Cell is one of the batteries produced in this perspective and there are companies who have registered patents in the same area. US Borax, which is still the largest company with respect its global market share, is also participating in these studies. In todays world there isnt much use of these, but in time their turn will most probably come.