Biomass energy theoretically has the potential to meet almost one-third of Turkey's yearly electricity consumption, according to Professor Günnur Koçar, the manager of Ege University Biomass Energy Systems and Technologies Application and Research Center (BESTMER), told Anadolu Agency (AA) Thursday.
The Izmir-based energy company will help utilize this potential, she said.
Speaking exclusively to AA, Koçar said biomass has a lot to offer Turkey as it can produce biogas, which can be used in the energy sector specifically to produce electricity.
Biogas is a type of biofuel that is naturally produced from the decomposition of organic waste which includes animal waste, more specifically cattle and poultry waste.
A Biomass Energy Potential Assessment (BEPA) 2020 study showed that since Turkey has approximately 17 million cattle, it could procure almost 120 million tons of waste per annum, Koçar said.
She added that when this waste potential is fully utilized – although this is currently not practically possible – biogas production, equivalent to nearly 4% of Turkey's annual natural gas production, is achievable in theory.
"When a variety of biomass sources are taken into accounts, such as agricultural and municipal waste along with cattle and poultry waste, biomass offers very high potential to meet one-third of Turkey's annual electricity consumption," she said.
Koçar added that modern and technologically mature systems are not as widespread in biomass energy as in solar and wind energy. She explained that biomass energy systems, which have proved technically and economically sufficient worldwide, have not been fully put into use in Turkey, except for a few biomass plants, despite the country's rich biomass potential and technological infrastructure.
To utilize this potential, she stressed the importance of government incentives and measures, as well as the need to obtain social acceptance of new technologies through education and promotional activity.
"It is very important that the installations, supply of system materials, maintenance and repair activities are being conducted by local institutions to provide continuity (in the biomass systems applications)," she added.
She acknowledged the possibility of producing high added-value energy from only one source of waste but said that modern technologies in the last century have allowed this possibility to be extended to a variety of fuels from biomass sources.
She cited solid biofuels as one of the first examples of this.
"Biofuels that are compressed and shaped into certain forms, like pellets and briquettes, can be used to produce thermal energy instead of wood. In terms of liquid fuels, now biodiesel and bioethanol can be used as an alternative for vehicles using diesel and gasoline," she explained.
Izmir-based BESTMER, which was officially established as a legal entity in February this year, aims to utilize and evaluate the country’s vast biomass energy resource potential, according to Koçar.
She explained that the center was founded in 2014 when it received nearly TL 6.85 million ($1 million) and TL13.5 million in grant from the Izmir Development Agency and Presidency of Strategy and Budget, respectively.
BESTMER follows local and global developments daily and accordingly, analyses and develops R&D infrastructure, she said. "Through joint studies and cooperation with local and international organizations, we try to strengthen our knowledge and experience."
The center carries out studies for its main objectives, including research, technological innovation, implementation, planning, strategy and policy development, consultancy and training of biomass energy.
Groups of academics and graduate students at BESTMER conduct experimental and numerical research on biomass energy – from raw materials to end products and its integration into biofuels along with biorefinery concepts.