Waste To Watts: How Istanbul Produces Electricity For 2 Million Residents From 14,000 Tons Of Garbage It Generates Daily


Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city with a population of around 15.5 million people, has been a pioneer in turning waste to energy.


Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city with a population of around 15.5 million people, has been a pioneer in turning waste into energy.

The expected production of power from the waste collected across the city in 2022 will meet the electricity requirement of two million people, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) said recently. In 2021, the city produced energy to meet the electricity requirements of 1.2 million people.

Istanbul generates about 14,000 to 15,000 tons of solid waste per day. (As a way of comparison Bengaluru generate 4,000 to 5,000 tons of solid waste per day).

Istanbul’s waste is collected and gathered in storage fields by Istanbul Environmental Management Industry and Trade (İSTAÇ) which was founded as an affiliate of the city municipality in 1994.

The company collects around 14,000 to 15,000 tons of garbage in Istanbul every day, 9,000 tonnes from the European side at four transfer stations, and 5,000 tonnes from the Asian side at three stations.

Special vehicles make 450 and 250 trips every day to transport waste from Istanbul’s European and Asian sides, respectively. These are then disposed into two sanitary landfill facilities in Istanbul, one in each side of the city, to be transformed into electricity by various methods.

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) currently produces a total of 65 MWh electrical power, in Odayeri Landfill Site 45 MWh (European side) and in Kömürcüoda Landfill Site 20 MWh (Asian side). This energy produced from landfills solely is sufficient for electricity needs for a population of 6,00,000. Income received from the production of electricity is used for city cleaning and to reduce the costs needed for other waste management activities.

How is the waste turned into electricity

Electricity is produced at both Seymen and Odayeri landfills. In the landfill, the site is excavated and perforated pipes are inserted before the waste is disposed of. Thanks to these pipes, the methane gas that will be formed by the decay of the wastes is transferred to the power generation facilities. Methane gas is used as fuel in gas engines and turns the engine. The motion energy of the rotating motor is converted into electrical energy and the grid is fed. A total of 600 million KWh of electricity produced in Odayeri, Seymen and Kömürcüoda in 2021 is equivalent to the 1-year electricity need of approximately 850 thousand people.

New Waste To Energy Facility commissioned

IMM developing another Waste to Energy Generation (WtE) facility. The WtE facility, the construction of which began in 2018, is located about 20 km north of Istanbul in the Eyüp district. The facilty is being constructed by Hitachi Zosen Inova – Makyol İnşaat Sanayi Turizm ve Ticaret A.Ş. Joint Venture (HZI-Makyol). It was built at estimated to cost 300 million Euros.

Commissioned in late 2021, it will be the largest facility in Europe with an annual capacity of 1 million tons (about 15% of Istanbul’s waste), generating 630 GWh of net electricity sufficient for a population of 1.4 millions.

The WtEP will generate energy from the municipal waste collected in Istanbul through the combustion of these wastes. The capacity of the WtEP will be 3000 tonne/day and will produce up to 90 MW of electrical energy. It is planned that the WtEP will work 24 hours daily, and 8,000 hours annually. The remaining 760 hours per year consists of the time required for maintenance and planned/unplanned shutdowns.

Inside the WtEP, the waste will be combusted across three process lines using grate combustion. After the combustion process, gases will be directed to the waste heat boiler to produce steam. Steam at 40 bar pressure and 400°C temperature will be sent to the turbine for electricity generation. Air-cooled condensers will be used for the cooling of the steam-water mixture that exits the turbines. All electricity produced at the WtEP will be exported to Turkish national electricity grid.