The study is an important step towards identifying sustainable ways for turning bio-wastes into energy
Turning waste into wealth – this old dream of mankind – is actually possible. As a new study by the EBRD and FAO shows, the combined biomass of Turkey and Egypt could generate enough electricity to supply 700,000 homes and renewable fuels to replace more than 2 million tonnes of oil each year. These findings are good news for two countries that are facing similar, and significant, energy challenges.
Turkey’s renewable energy plan
Economic growth and urbanisation in Turkey has resulted in a steady increase in electricity consumption, which is almost entirely met by imported fossil fuels. To reduce this dependency and decrease the budget deficit, the country has adopted ambitious targets including raising the share of renewable energy from a level of 13.5 per cent in 2013 to 20.5 per cent in 2023.
In this context, the study shows that more than 25 million tonnes of crop residues – mainly from sunflower, maize and cotton – and an indicative 150 million tonnes of livestock residues from cattle buffalo and layer chickens could generate more than 1 GW of electricity, or 100 per cent of the national target for renewable energy from biomass. Cotton stalk residues in particular have enormous potential – if 20 per cent alone of the stalk residue were used to produce briquettes and pellets, an additional 1 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) could be produced each year. This is equivalent to 30 per cent of the biomass heating and cooling targets set out in the Turkish Renewable Energy Action Plan. Overall, the identified bioenergy potential could result in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions of 6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year, which is equal to the emissions from more than 1.3 million passenger cars.
Potential of biomass in Egypt
Egypt ranks amongst the 11 fastest growing greenhouse gas emitters in the world. In recent years, energy subsidies have led to a high budget deficit which the government is addressing through a reform that aims to decrease subsidies to 0.5 per cent of GDP by 2019. Meanwhile, an ambitious renewable energy target has been set: increasing renewable energy installed capacity from 3,385 MW in 2012 to 11,320 MW by 2020, or 20 per cent of the country’s energy mix.
The estimated availability of 5 million tonnes of crop residues and 14 million tonnes of livestock residues could unlock an energy potential of more than 750 MW, which is equivalent to 7 per cent of the above target. The biofuels’ potential is estimated at about 1.8 Mtoe per year, or 30 per cent of the annual liquefied petroleum gas consumption of the country. These residues are mostly concentrated in the Governorates of Behera, Sharkia, Dakahlia and Kafr-El Sheikh, all in the Middle Delta region. Overall, emissions could be reduced by 6.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (the same as 1.4 million cars on the road) annually.
While the study reveals the potential for biomass use, it also acknowledges challenges. A lack of awareness and understanding about where potential exists and how it can be exploited are currently limiting the scaling-up of biomass use. Markets for technologies in this area are still nascent in both countries and there is also scope to improve the policy environment. In addition, the infrastructure and logistics required to develop the biomass supply chain are also very underdeveloped.
The study is an important first step towards the identification of sustainable ways for turning bio-wastes into energy. It provides a clear mapping of resources that are not related to the food chain and priority locations where these resources can be collected. It also gives an initial idea of the most effective utilisation routes under different market conditions. The study is highly relevant for public and private sector stakeholders including market and policy makers, project developers and investors.
The EBRD intends to build on the results of the study and the network of professionals and government representatives created during this cooperation with the FAO to promote (and possibly finance) sound investment projects in the bioenergy space. This will include working with the relevant authorities to improve policies and regulations and with sector and market players to develop the supply chains for residues as well as bioenergy production and utilisation platforms.