Image by Eyasu Etsub

What is Biomass?

With the Law No. 5346 on the Use of Renewable Energy Resources for the Purpose of Generating Electricity, Biomass is "products that are not imported from agricultural and forestry products, including urban wastes, vegetable oil wastes, agricultural harvest wastes, and from the by-products resulting from the processing of these products and waste tires, including the resources obtained and industrial waste sludge and treatment sludge". 

 

Biomass is the potential of non-fossilized organic material that exists in living form. The biomass variety used in energy production may differ depending on the countries' own resources and priorities.

Agricultural residues are sources of biomass with high energy values. It is the only renewable energy source that can produce heat / cold, electricity and fuel with appropriate technologies in a continuous production. Conversion of biomass from jet fuel to automobile fuel, as well as fuels from petroleum derivatives is possible.

Carbon- neutral Energy Production

Plants are not only sources of food, but also environmentally friendly inexhaustible energy. Plant-based biomass converts the carbon dioxide (CO2) it takes from the environment in the process of photosynthesis. Biomass energy is carbon neutral because the carbon dioxide that occurs when biomass is converted into energy form with different technologies is equal to the carbon dioxide absorbed during biomass formation. Biomass has a big potential of being a good alternative energy source for controlling carbon emissions, the biggest cause of climate change.

Environmental Benefits of Biomass Use

  • A renewable energy source

  • An alternative to fossil fuels

  • Carbon- neutral

  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Decreases environmental pollution by adding economic value to wastes.

  • Prevents stubble burning.

  • An organic raw material, by-product / waste / residual obtained after energy conversion is organic again and may be used as soil conditioner and fertilizer after certain procedures.

Preventing Stubble Burning

  • Burning stubble results both the agricultural ecosystem and the natural ecosystem destruction. It is strictly prohibited by Turkish government, however, due to economic reasons, the agricultural producers may choose to burn the agricultural residues to clean up the area to prepare it for the new harvest season directly. In short term, it provides time and money save, but destroys the ecology in multiple ways. 

  • Especially the balance of Carbon (C) and Nitrogen (N) in the soil disappears and the fields become inefficient as a result of stubble burning.

  • The amount of organic matter decreases.

  • Microbiological activity regresses. Invertebrates disappear.

  • Soil water holding capacity and soil fertility decrease.

Sustainability of Biomass Use

Since biomass provides a source of organic raw materials, its sustainability is possible only with the correct and efficient use of its raw material source. Misapplications for biomass raw material production in different countries have caused great environmental damage. Therefore, in order to create a sustainable biomass sector in Turkey, the residue use and selection of raw materials need detailed plannings and efficiency calculations prepared by multiple expertises.

Repeatability of Biomass Projects

In order to reveal the relevant success / failure factors within the framework of the project and to better understand the issues, the sectoral experience sharing of the projects with ethical methods will also reveal the management structures that will be considered for future projects in biomass.Best practices, investment incentives, risk management tools and similar studies can be used for the development of future projects and energy production can be achieved more efficiently.

Benefits of Biomass for Turkey

  • More farmers can earn additional income by selling their agricultural residues to biomass facilities or by going directly into their supply chain and converting the biomass residues into pellets or briquettes.

  • Making laws and regulations for more sustainable agricultural waste management in the agricultural field will reduce the open burning of agricultural wastes / stubble in the field, resulting in a reduction in air pollution, air pollution-related diseases and greenhouse gases.

  • It will result in improved air quality in cities surrounded by agricultural land. 

  • it is essential to leave some of the agricultural residues in the soil in order to protect the organic structure of the soil. Hence, sustainability planning becomes a crucial part of biomass use.

  • Such regulations on more sustainable agricultural waste management will result in improved soil quality as the demand for fertilizers will decrease.

  • Improved management of agricultural residues will also lead to a reduction in landfills, eliminating the odor of decaying biomass in open areas, and better waste management of regions.

  • Increased use of agricultural residues in industry and other sectors for heating and cooling purposes will contribute to a reduction in fossil energy demand, and thus to increased competitiveness and employment in the sector.

  • In Turkey, biomass cogeneration facilities are generally using only their electricity as an energy source and the heat generated in addition to electricity generation is not used. With this project, the efficiency levels of biomass plants will increase by using waste heat from biomass cogeneration plants in the food industry and / or district heating. In addition, awareness will be raised on necessary reforms in the thermal energy sector. This will generally accelerate the development of new techniques and technical equipment suppliers, energy efficiency solutions and improvements in industrial production processes.

  • There will be employment creation and social benefits, particularly in rural areas as creating additional income and increasing the income of the people. In addition, the project will prioritize ensuring gender equality.

Image by Ankit Manoharan

Biomass energy is a fundamental sustainable energy type for today and the future, and it is an environmental alternative  to fossil fuels, and improves the circular economy in agricultural reasons once regulated sustainably.