The Ecotopia 2121 Project details the futures of 100 cities across the globe as though they've somehow overcome all environmental challenges to become super-ecofriendly. This month, we highlight the future of Antalya.
Antalya is city of a million people on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The tourist brochures promote Antalya as one of the most visited cities in the world, attracting tourists from all over Europe for its sunshine, for its seaside, and for its historical setting. Once upon a time, Antalya was ruled by the Greeks, then the Romans, and then the Ottomans, all leaving traces of architecture dotted around the city.
Sometimes, the reality of the Antalya isn’t nearly as nice as the brochures indicate, with heavy traffic, heavy smog, and heavy grey lifeless architecture.
Nowadays, in the early 21st Century, the city engineers are pushing for Antalya to become a Solar City. There are many formidable barriers in the way, though--political, technological, and financial, and so progress is slow and faltering.
In this scenario, though, in the early 22nd century, Antalya has become the Solar Capital of the Mediterranean -- sporting solar-powered schools, solar-powered transport, solar-powered factories; solar-powered everything.
The effect of all this will be to transform Antalya 2121 (see graphic picture below) into a smog-free city and to convert the grey cityscape into a glimmering golden orange vista. In 2121, solar cells can be easily printed, pasted or painted onto various structures in any color.
And by popular vote, the theme color in Antalya becomes a sunny golden orange -- settled on in deference to the oranges of the same name that grow nearby and to the city’s popular Golden Orange film festival.
Antalya 2121 by the author
Nowadays, energy experts bemoan that one of the biggest drawbacks with solar power is its inefficiency on cloudy and poorly-lit days but in Antalya 2121, this drawback has been overcome in three ways:
1) Super-efficient solar cells: these new varieties work well even under minimal light like that from a full moon. These include solar cells made from new minerals like perovskite instead of silicon.
2) Water batteries: During the day, the energy from solar panels is used to pump water up to reservoirs in the nearby Taurus mountains. When the sun goes down, this water is slowly released downhill to power hydro-generators near the bottom.
3) Bladeless wind turbines: these turbines shudder just a few inches in Antalya’s sea breezes and these vibrations are then converted to electricity to augment the city’s night-time energy needs
Because this technology is developed using novel processes, Antalya’s expertise in unique solar technology also provides for a thriving solar economy. Antalya 2121 has thusly become the largest solar-servicing center for the Mediterranean; on whose coastal shores live two-hundred million city-dwellers; all interested in buying into Antalya’s solar technologies.
So, how might Antalya 2121 come about? The social lubricant is the sudden rise of the political process called demarchy.
Demarchy is the selection of government by random lottery. Some people say it is a purer form of democracy because the corrupting influence of party politics and election campaigns are avoided and the government composition ends up to be a more accurate representation of the electorate.
Demarchy comes to Antalya in a fittingly unplanned, random manner. Realistically, this is the only way it could emerge since those with political power are very reticent to give up on a system that gave them that power. So what situation will create this new democratic landscape?
Nowadays, in the early 21st century, Turkey suffers from an authoritarian Government. At the same time as pursuing tight control over its citizens, Turkey’s leaders also want to show the world they are a force to be reckoned with upon the global stage. After being rebuffed by the European Union every time it seeks membership; the Turkish leaders of the future decide that one of the ways it can impress the world is to build a series of nuclear plants.
These, they believe, will offer the double benefit of cheap electricity plus the ability to provide atomic weapons. And so, in the early to mid-21st Century, the laws are made, the plans are laid, and the constructions are made; ten new nuclear plants on the Mediterranean coast--up and running by 2050.
As if to snub the importance of Europe to them, they decide to build them all very near Antalya where European holiday-makers like to spend their summers. The Antalya provincial government at this time also invests in the project as they look forward to becoming the wealthy mega-energy capital of the Middle East. But, after a decade of planning mistakes, construction errors, corruption, and financial chaos, as well as a few scary earthquakes and fretful public protests, the half-built nuclear plants are all moth-balled. The whole fiasco has plunged the province of Antalya into debt, as well as making electricity-supply unreliable, and those provincial leaders involved in promoting the project are unceremoniously dumped from office.
Finding replacements is not easy, however. Nobody wants to be in a provincial government with no money and no energy. So it’s agreed that the new leaders are to be picked via lottery; the tickets for which can be bought, one per person for one Lira, on any street corner. Out of a sense of duty, or a desire for power, or just the need to find a job, about 10,000 residents buy their one ticket.
The girl in her late teens who happens to win, with no money to run the city, isn’t afraid to ask immediate assistance from Europe to ‘solarize’ Antalya and get the electricity flowing again. Europe is more than keen to help with various loans and technologies since at least solar energy doesn't furnish Turkey with source material for nuclear weapons, as nuclear plants would.
By 2121, the tourists flock to Antalya again, in admiration for its golden orange architecture as much as for the sunshine. Many of them also go home with the idea of demarchy also planted firmly in their minds.
S. Ulibarri, ed, Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers; World Weaver Press, 2018.
S. Dean, Is this how our world will look like in 2121?, Daily Mail, 27th Jan, 2018.