​​​​​​​From waste to energy: Turkey looks to biomass to achieve ‘green growth’

​​​​​​​From waste to energy: Turkey looks to biomass to achieve ‘green growth’

By fostering an environmentally sound bioenergy industry, Turkey can decrease dependence on imported coal, oil and natural gas, and also mitigate harmful greenhouse gas emissions

30 Aug 2021


Currently, Turkey relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to meet its domestic energy demand. But by embracing the massive growth of its renewable energy market – including biomass and circular waste-free approaches – Turkey can achieve its long-term sustainability and energy security goals.

Turkey has one of the world’s fastest growing economies in the world and ranks second in natural gas and electricity demand growth after China. Projections show that Turkey’s energy demand will continue to rise. Reducing external energy dependency in the electricity market with renewables is a relatively common approach in the global energy market. But, it is challenging when it comes to replacing fossil fuel use in the energy market with renewables. Biomass however offers a unique opportunity from other renewable energy sources as it can play a fundamental role in producing both electricity and heat (and even cooling in tri-generation systems) at the same time, contributing to sustainability measures in multiple dimensions.

Creating a market for biomass and industrial energy efficiency

Turkey’s untapped biomass sector presents huge opportunities to generate heat and electricity from agricultural waste. Although these opportunities appear attractive, there remains a lot of uncertainty in terms of costs, supply and aggregation, technology and scale.

A United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) project in cooperation with TAGEM (Turkey's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies) aims to demonstrate and re-purpose agricultural residues in the production of energy.

Turkish farmers typically burn these residues which emit harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. But by fostering and promoting an environmentally sound bioenergy industry, Turkey can decrease its dependence on imported coal, oil and natural gas, and also mitigate harmful greenhouse gas emissions. 

In addition to showcasing modern and environmentally safe bioenergy technologies and processes, the project is working to simultaneously promote the benefits of industrial energy efficiency through awareness-raising and demonstrate various energy efficiency technology applications in selected small and medium enterprise (SME) sub-sectors. Particular focus will be given to the potential of waste-heat recovery in Turkish industrial plants.

Advocacy and policy support

Turkey’s national energy strategy aims to make the country’s energy supply more secure through diversification. The generation of more energy resources that are domestically sourced and also renewable is essential to achieving this goal.

UNIDO is working with the government to strengthen existing incentives which are designed to accelerate the use of biomass as an energy resource. This includes advice and support for the development of sustainable production, conversion and efficient utilization of bioenergy, in line with the Renewable Energy Action Plan of Turkey

Through regular training initiatives and workshops, the project expects to deliver a critical mass of energy efficiency capacity and biomass knowhow for both industry stakeholders and policymakers.

The project also emphasizes gender balance in each step of energy generation, and displays gender equality planning for all its awareness-raising and training. 

Financing for efficiency

Although a number of renewable energy applications using organic waste have successfully obtained investment, Turkish investors are typically reluctant to finance biomass and/or industrial energy efficiency initiatives due to perceived risks. To overcome this, UNIDO is trialling and encouraging a number of financing mechanisms. This includes a dedicated credit support for selected projects sponsors wanting to experiment with the ESCO (energy service company) model. Additional measures, such as investment grants and tax breaks are also under consideration.

Originally published by the Industrial Energy Accelerator, a UNIDO-led network of international initiatives working to inspire global action on industrial energy efficiency.