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New joint EBRD and FAO studies reveal bioenergy potential in Egypt and Turkey

Two new joint studies by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) shows that the combined biomass potential of Egypt and Turkey could generate ≈ 1.75 GW of electricity as well as renewable fuels to replace more than 2 million tonnes of oil annually.

Residues from agriculture could provide a significant contribution to the renewable energy mix for Egypt and Turkey according to new BEFS reports (photo courtesy EBRD).

Residues from agriculture could provide a significant contribution to the renewable energy mix for Egypt and Turkey according to new BEFS reports (photo courtesy EBRD).

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) have jointly released Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) reports for Eygpt and Turkey respectively.

The BEFS reports assess the availability of agriculture residues for energy production covering pathways from agriculture residues to heat, power, combined heat and power (CHP) and biofuels. The results provide an overview of which bioenergy pathways can be viable and the locations of the bioenergy potential, given the overarching existing policy framework in each country.

Replace LPG in Egypt

Egypt ranks amongst the 11 fastest growing greenhouse gas (GHG) 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 percent of the country’s energy mix.

According to the “BEFS Assessment for Egypt study, 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 percent of the above target.

The biofuels’ potential is estimated at about 1.8 Mtoe per annum or 30 percent of the annual liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumption of the country. Overall, emissions could be reduced by 6.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent annually.

Heat and power in Turkey

In Turkey, economic growth and urbanisation has led to 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 percent in 2013 to 20.5 percent in 2023.

The “BEFS Assessment for Turkey 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 percent of the national target for renewable energy from biomass.

In particular, cotton stalk residues have enormous potential – if 20 percent alone of the stalk residue were used to produce briquettes and pellets, an additional 1 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) could be produced annually. This is equivalent to 30 percent 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 annually.

Challenges identified

While both studies reveal the potential for biomass use, it also acknowledges challenges. A lack of awareness and understanding about where the 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 studies are an important first step towards the identification of sustainable ways for turning bio-wastes into energy. The EBRD intends to build on the results of the studies 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.

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