Istanbul, the largest municipality in Europe by population, is home to over 16 million people, almost 18 percent of the population of the entire country. As Türkiye's economic, cultural and historical hub, Istanbul is a bustling metropolis that draws millions of tourists every year. As the city grows, so does its demand for energy.
Cemal Ufuk Karakaya
Cemal Ufuk Karakaya
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality
Deputy Secretary-General
The project is expected to result in a reduction of 1.38 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and contribute positively to both waste disposal and energy production against the negative effects of global warming.
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) has been developing a Waste-to-Energy Generation (WtE) plant since 2010. The plant is expected to decrease municipal solid waste (MSW) destined for landfills and increase renewable electricity production for their growing population.

"The project is the first plant in Türkiye wherein municipal residential waste is being converted into electricity, so it is significant," said IMM Deputy Secretary-General Cemal Ufuk Karakaya. By eliminating 15 percent of Istanbul's daily household waste, the facility will meet the electricity needs of approximately 1.4 million people with the 85-megawatt electrical energy it will generate.
It will also reduce waste that ends up in landfills.

"This plant will prevent 3,000 tons of waste from going to landfill sites every day," added Karakaya. "This volume of waste can cover almost 57 soccer fields every year. As this waste will not be transported to landfill sites, we will have yearly savings of 6 million km on average."

Aside from being the first WtE facility in Türkiye, it is also the largest of its kind in Europe. The facility is about 20 km north of Istanbul in the Eyüp district. With an annual capacity of 1 million tons, Istanbul's WtE facility would generate 630 gigawatt-hours of net electricity, enough to power 400,000 households.

"A total of 100 hectares of land will be saved from becoming landfill," Karakaya said. "Thanks to bottom ash recovery, magnetic metals and nonferrous metals are brought back into the economy. We are continuing research and development studies on reusing the remaining bottom and fly ash."

The project was initially financed by the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB), BNP Paribas and Societe Generale and Swiss Export Risk Versicherung (SERV). In 2021, AIIB) approved EUR100 million 10-year nonsovereign financing for the project.

Karakaya said, "Thanks to AIIB, project completion in accordance with the planned schedule is ensured."

"Our long-tenor financing of 10 years in line with the Export Credit Agency-covered tranche helps reduce debt service pressure," explained AIIB Senior Private Sector Operations Specialist Edwin Yuen, who heads the project team in AIIB. "By providing financing, we helped ensure successful project completion."

The Istanbul Waste-to-Energy Generation Project is AIIB’s first de-risked WtE project, providing valuable commissioning and early operational insights.

"Beyond the project, the facility is expected to demonstrate the technical strengths and environmental benefits of the technology to the entire country," Yuen added. "Other metropolitan areas in Türkiye have already expressed an interest in WtE, including Izmir, Bursa and Antalya."

"The project also demonstrates strong and seamless collaboration between the two teams," said AIIB Investment Operations Specialist Yaxin Yan. The project team would like to recognize the efforts made by the IMM foreign finance team, including Rezzan Neslihan Vural, Director of Finance, Deniz Demirbaş, Deputy Director of Finance, and Sesil Ersoy, Project Coordinator for getting this project off the ground and completed.

In 2021, despite the challenges of the global pandemic, civil construction works and commissioning and reliability tests have been concluded. The project employed measures in line with Türkiye’s Ministry of Health recommendations and the health and safety unit of the IMM. These included more personnel working remotely, creating quarantine zones, applying regular disinfection and reducing disposable items at the mess hall.

Transfer stations were optimized to ensure waste inputs continue. Efforts were made to complete the energy transmission line and switchyard on time. Bunker area management is regularly improved so the contractor can continuously feed homogeneous and similar wastes to the boiler. Partial provisional acceptance protocols have been signed and, most important, the operation commenced in October.

"Thanks to the project, we expect a reduction of 1.38 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions," Karakaya said. "The project will contribute positively to both waste disposal and energy production against the negative effects of global warming."

The WtE project is fully in line with Türkiye's climate action plan for carbon neutrality by 2050 and its intended national contribution to the Paris Agreement of reducing greenhouse gas emissions up to 21 percent of business-as-usual levels by 2030.

"The project shows AIIB's capacity to successfully conduct operations in challenging markets," said AIIB Infrastructure Senior Economist Gabriel Alfredo Giacobone, who co-lead the project team.

The project's climate mitigation component aligns with AIIB's Green Infrastructure thematic priority. It is also in line with AIIB’s Sustainable Cities Strategy and Energy Strategy since it will enhance city resilience through better urban waste management and promote energy security by providing baseload and reducing the carbon intensity of supply."

Group photo shows (L to R) Sesil ERSOY, Serra MANDACI, Deniz DEMİRBAŞ, Rezzan Neslihan VURAL, Murat SELVİ, Cemal Ufuk KARAKAYA, Mustafa KILIÇ, Duygu Doğan Arslan Engin ÖZTÜRK, and Abdulkadir ŞAHİNBEYOĞLU
Türkiye: Energy From Waste