This paper analyses the politics of renewable energy in Turkey by discussing the opportunities as well as the constraints facing decision makers in their attempt to create an attractive renewable energy investment environment. A careful study of Turkey’s energy policy demonstrates that the main challenge to renewable energy reforms in Turkey is not technological or even financial but rather political. Despite external pressures for reform, political stability, favourable public opinion, and a certain level of civic activism in support of renewable energy, the Turkish government has not been able to reduce the dominance of fossil fuels in its energy policy. Populist decision making, geostrategic calculations and a political reluctance to reduce the state’s dominance in the energy sector have led to the slow and limited development of renewable resources. Lack of vision and forward planning in the bureaucracy as well as collective action problems among business and environmental groups have also contributed to the inertia that is preventing a radical shift in Turkey’s energy orientation. This analysis is important for dissecting policymaking in Turkey over an issue that has significant repercussions for development and economic welfare as well as national security. It is also valuable in terms of outlining some of the political barriers countries generally face in the promotion of renewable energy.