Work has begun on a Chinese-sponsored $1.7bn coal plant on the southern coast of Turkey, near the Syrian border. The Hunutlu Thermal Plant broke ground in the coastal town of Yumurtalik on Sunday in the province of Adana, reports Xinhua, which called it China’s largest ever direct investment in Turkey. The plant is being built under the badge of the Belt and Road Initiative, in which Turkey forms part of the “Middle Corridor”.
According to Dutch finance watchdog BankTrack, the project’s sponsor is Emba Electricity Production, owned by Shanghai Electric Power, the Avic International Project Engineering Company, and two undisclosed Turkish investors. Shanghai Electric Power holds a little over 78% of the shares.
When complete at the end of 2021 the plant will generate 1.3GW of power, or about 3% of Turkey’s installed capacity. As well as the plant, the project includes a port to receive coal.
Wang Yundan, chief executive of the Shanghai Electric Power Company, said that he aimed to build a clean and reliable power plant with high efficiency, which was also expected to help boost Turkey’s economy, raise employment and promote sustainable power generation.
The project was approved in 2015. BankTrack notes has been the subject of legal actions and grassroots campaigns for more than a decade. Opponents object to it being built in a biodiversity protection zone, saying it would have negative health and environmental impacts.