In the aftermath of the Kahramanmaraş earthquakes, as NGOs working in the field of climate and environment, we started to work on the components of a green reconstruction process in line with climate goals across Turkey, with a priority on the earthquake region. This document, which addresses the role of solar energy in the emergency response and reconstruction/recovery process, is the first output of this series of studies and includes our demands for the reconstruction process.

The role of solar for the emergency response phase
Acil müdahale aşaması için güneşin rolü

The February 6 earthquake also damaged the electricity infrastructure, cutting off access to grid electricity in many areas. After the earthquake, solar energy companies delivered solar systems to different disaster points to meet lighting, cell phone / radio chargers and other simple energy needs. These different equipments met an important need in the region and were useful. However, a better method than providing such materials from outside the disaster area in case of emergency is to provide off-grid electricity supply systems within the borders of the region.

Off-grid electricity supply in emergency response, disaster coordination and debris search and rescue areas can also be provided by buildings with solar energy systems on their roofs and solar installations in emergency gathering areas. If these systems are installed with storage, they can provide electricity for the needs of all apartment dwellers (refrigerator, lighting, modem, phone charging, etc.) or provide electricity to gathering areas in case of a 2-4 day outage.

The generators currently used as a solution to this problem need diesel fuel and access to fuel is disrupted during disasters. Since the cost of storage solar systems and generators are almost breakeven, solar systems without fuel costs have a cost advantage in the medium and long term.

The role of solar for temporary housing (tent cities, container cities)

The tent cities and container cities already established in the earthquake zone are primarily built in areas with grid access for electricity. For this reason, installing solar systems in these areas, which will be connected to the grid, does not emerge as a meaningful option as a result of cost/benefit analysis. However, in rural areas where grid access is not possible, solar system installations designed for the needs of the regions can also emerge as economic applications. Repairing the damaged grid takes more time in rural areas than in cities. On the other hand, it may not be a preferable option for people in these areas to leave their living/ subsistence areas and move to tent cities and container cities established in the center. However, since electricity demand in rural areas is generally lower than in the center, solar energy can be a technically and economically viable investment. For the reasons mentioned above, the installation of off-grid electricity supply systems in rural areas can be supported. Since such an implementation would also be a design sensitive to local needs, it can stand out as an example of good practice that both increases the resilience of the region by providing electricity supply independent of the central grid and supports the accommodation of local people without having to relocate. These needs and opportunities should be reflected in spatial plans and zoning practices as part of post-disaster planning efforts for rural areas by the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change.

The role of solar in new construction 

The reconstruction of post-earthquake devastated cities should not be reduced to a one-dimensional engineering work and a housing production activity within this scope. The recovery and reconstruction of cities should not be rushed, and reconstruction should start after design and planning processes that include the dimensions of urban identity, history, culture, climate, natural areas, environment, economy, property, finance, food and agriculture, and that allow the participation of not only scientists but also disaster victims.

In this context, our demands for the most effective use of solar energy in this design, planning and implementation process:

  • The Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change should make the installation of solar panels in the buildings to be constructed compulsory by the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change. 
  • The Ministry of Energy and EMRA should guarantee and direct electricity distribution companies to design and build transformer substations for rebuilt cities with a higher capacity suitable for micro-grids and allowing renewable energy sources to enter the system.
  • The roofs of new buildings should be solar ready. For this purpose, the roofs should be south-facing and have the necessary slope dimensions, with gaps where solar panels can be placed.
  • The electricity infrastructure of new buildings and cities should be built at a level that ensures that all energy needs in the building (including heating-cooling, water heating, stoves, vehicle charging) are met by electricity, that is, all energy needs should be electrified. 
  • The Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change should make it mandatory for the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change to install solar panels on the roofs of common areas such as parking lots and marketplaces in new buildings
  • Buildings that will be retrofitted due to their risky condition should also be made ready to install solar panels in this process, and support and obligation mechanisms should be evaluated for the use of solar panels after the necessary inspections are carried out in existing buildings from a certain date

The role of the sun in building new economies

Post-earthquake recovery involves not only the construction of new buildings but also the establishment of new local/regional economies. In this context, solar energy systems can be positioned not only as a source of energy but also as an element of development due to the sector’s high employment generation potential. The establishment of a solar energy-based industry (manufacturing of solar panels etc.) and service sector (roof installation etc.) can make a strong contribution to the establishment of new economies. In this respect, the Ministry of Industry and Technology and the Presidential Strategy and Budget Presidency should encourage low-carbon, green sectors in the establishment of new economies.

Supporting organizations:

WWF-Turkey (World Wildlife Fund)

Greenpeace Mediterranean


Green Thought Association

Yuva Association

Aegean Forest Foundation

Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe)

Beyond Fossil Fuels

350 for climate

Sustainable Economy and Finance Research Association (SEFiA)