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Did Turkey really save electricity removing daylight saving time?

Daylight saving time is supposed to save energy but its efficiency has also been challenged. However, Turkey’s Minister of Energy goes against research findings and claims that removing DST actually saved electricity. Data on national electricity consumption suggest otherwise though.

Electrice pole in Turkey
Electrice pole in Turkey | © raltinata

During a speech at the Turkey Energy Summit on November 21, Fatih Dönmez, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural resources said that, so far, its country has saved 6.82 billion KWh of electricity since they stopped applying daylight saving time.

Summertime arrangements, when clocks are advanced by one hour for half of the year, are observed in about 60 countries in the world. But over the past 30 years countries like Iceland, China, Russia, Belarus, and most recently Turkey, abolished daylight saving time (DST).

On September 2016, Turkey decided to stay in the same time zone as Moscow or Saudi Arabia and be three hours ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time. Then, from 2017 on, they stopped moving their clock forward of one hour during summer.

In 2017, the government wanted to revert the permanent time at UTC+2, the “summer time“, but the decision was reversed.

Fatih Dönmez, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural resources at the Turkey Energy Summit on November 21
Fatih Dönmez, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural resources at the Turkey Energy Summit on November 21 | © Turkish ministry of Energy, 2021

Unlike what research says, Turkey would have saved electricity by removing DST

Daylight saving time is set to save energy. But an explanatory memorandum from the European Commission in 2018 explains that “research indicates that the overall energy savings effect of summer-time is marginal“.

In 2016, a study estimated that Italy saved 0.2% of its annual electricity consumption, or about 580 GWh and EUR 94,5 million a year.

In France, DST was estimated to save 0.1% of electricity consumption in 2010, 5% in Spain in 2015, and studying electricity saving became irrelevant in Germany.

But unlike most research results, Turkey claims that daylight saving time would actually use more energy.

By keeping their clocks at UTC+3, Turkey’s “winter time” has saved 6,082GWh and 6 billion liras (US $500 million) according to the minister who answered to the mayor of Istanbul, critical of the fixed winter hour causing “citizens to start the day in the dark“.

While Turkey claims to have saved electricity by removing DST, total electric consumption data as explained below show it has not led to any savings.

How much electricity has Turkey saved?

Based of the minister’s data, Turkey has been saving no more than 0.6% of the country’s consumption of electricity.

More precisely, compared to the total electricity consumption reported by the International Energy Agency, the 6.82TWh from the minister would account for a 0.63% reduction of electricity consumption between 2017 and 2020.

But IEA data also provide another view of the situation. Analysis of the electricity consumption in the country suggests Turkey did not have save electricity since 2016.

Total electricity consumption increased in Turkey since 2016

On the contrary, electricity consumption increased by 12% in 2020 compared to 2016 (273.6 TWh vs 243.7TWh).

Electricity consumption even grew every year, with the exception of 2019 which remained flat compared to 2018.

electricity consumption in Turkey
Electricity consumption in Turkey from 1990 to 2020 (TWh). Growth in electricity consumption became slower in 2019 and 2020. But it accounts for a 12% growth compared to 2016 consumption levels | © IEA, November 2021

The ministry of Energy had forecast a gross electricity consumption increase of 4.3% annually until 2023 (including all electricity produced, even what is lost and doesn’t make it to the end user).

But in 2019 and 2020, electricity consumption grew less than the +4.3% expected, which could be thought as a saving. Even if it’s not really the case.

Electricity consumption per capita grew since 2016

The population who lives in Turkey has also significantly increased in the past few years. In 2016, 79.8 million people lived in Turkey, a figure constantly increasing to reach 84.3 million people in 2020.

More people living in Turkey could explain why electricity consumption increased, and figures could actually be lower if the population had remained constantly the same.

Population grew by 6% in 4 years, which is a significant increase. But it still smaller than the increase in electricity consumption.

As a matter of facts, electricity consumption per capita also increased since Turkey’s clocks were permanently set at UTC+3.

Electricy consumption per capita in Turkey
Electricy consumption per capita in Turkey 1990-2020 (MWh per person). Electricity consumption increased faster than the population. Electricity consumption per capita has been more energy-consuming by at least 6% in the years after removing daylight saving time | © IEA, November 2021

In 2016, Turkey’s electricity consumption was equivalent to 3.1MWh per person. It was the country’s highest ratio during the 21st century at the time.

But electricity consumption per capita kept increasing after 2016 and was at least at 3.3MWh per person.

Years after removing daylight saving time were at least approximately 6% to 10% more energy-consuming than the years before the change.

Electricity isn’t only consumed by the population. It is also used for a country’s economic activity, which could be a reason for a higher consumption.

Electricity consumption compared to growth increased since 2016

Between 2016 and 2020, Turkey’s gross domestic product grew by 13.6%, in constant local currency. Using a constant currency value allows the comparison of the efficiency in electricity consumption with Turkey’s GDP over the years.

In 2016, 153.56KWh of electricity was consumed to make 1 Turkish lira.

And it turns out that electricity consumption for the period 2013-2016 was 1.25% more efficient for Turkey’s economy than during 2017-2020.

The average electricity efficiency was 151.60KWh for every lira created in Turkey’s economy in 2013-2016 when 153.50KWh were consumed to generate 1 lira in 2017-2020.

Electricity consumption compared to Turkish economy (constant currency)
How much electricity is consumed for 1 lira Turkey’s economy created (in constant currency). The period 2013-2016 was 1.25% more efficient in terms of electricity consumption for Turkey’s economy than in 2017-2020 | © IEA and World Bank, November 2021

The productivity of electricity in the economy seems to have been improving since 2018. But 2020, a particular year marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, skews such conclusion.

Electricity consumption in Turkey has been more intense for the economy after 2016.

It therefore goes against the idea that Turkey saved electricity since removing daylight saving time again.

Another factor can skew the analysis of electricity productivity in Turkey’s GDP: inflation.

With inflation, use of electricity artificially appears more efficient

Over the past 50 years, inflation rate in Turkey has been pretty high. Especially in the 90s when consumer prices could even double in a year.

But inflation was more stable in Turkey since the early 2000s, with a rate at approximately 8% per year.

However, inflation rate has been increasing again recently, with rates above 10% every year since 2017. The Turkish lira even reached record lows in November 2021.

Inflation rate in Turkey 2004-2020
Inflation rate in Turkey 2004-2020. Inflation was relatively stable around 8% between 2004 and 2016 | © World Bank

And so, by taking the GDP data with the current currency value, electricity consumption appears to be more efficient since daylight saving time was removed.

For the period 2017-2020, 66.43KWh were consumed on average for every 1 lira created in the Turkish economy, whereas an average of 101,85KWh was consumed in 2013-2016.

Since DST was removed, electricity productivity artificially appears 35% more efficient because of inflation.

Electricity consumption compared to Turkish economy (current currency)
How much electricity is consumed for 1 lira Turkey’s economy created (in current currency). Since daylight saving time (DST) was removed, electricity productivity artificially appears 35% more efficient because of inflation | © IEA and World Bank, November 2021

Summary of findings

For Turkey’s minister of Energy, sticking to winter hours after 2016 has saved 6.82TWh so far, which accounts for a 0.62% reduction over the period 2017-2020.

Since 2017, electricity consumption increased less than the +4.3% forecast from the government.

But between 2016 and 2020, electricity consumption actually grew by 12% in the country.

Electricity consumption per capita increased approximately by 6% after 2016.

The electricity consumed compared to Turkey’s economy was 1.6% less efficient without daylight saving time.

By taking the country’s vivid inflation into consideration, electricity would artificially show a 35% productivity saving in electricity.

Conclusion

In the end, research recently showed that summertime saved energy. But the impact was relatively small.

Turkish authorities reported the opposite situation. However, electricity consumption data in Turkey suggest they have not been saving electricity since they stopped daylight saving time.

And if any, Turkey’s declared savings are also relatively marginal.

Other factors than energy are also taken into considerations before changing summertime arrangement. Public health, for one.

NB: The analyses on this page don’t take potential consumption peaks during days or seasons into considerations as the goal is to know if DST actually saved electricity overall. But it may affect the money spent or saved for the electricity consumed, especially for end users. The latter was not covered here.

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