Turkey exported 6,800 tons of pistachio nuts last year, and now the country is floating plans to build a city powered by the leftover shells. The idea came from Burgeap, a French environmental engineering company, which claims the shells could provide up to 60 percent of the city’s heating needs. Planned for the southeastern region of the country in Gaziantep, which was responsible for more than 50 percent of last year’s pistachio exports, this potential eco-city isn’t as crazy as it sounds.
“Gaziantep’s potential in pistachio production is known, as well as its considerable amount of pistachio shells waste,” Seda Muftuoglu Gulec, a green building expert for the municipality, told AFP. The core of the idea is to obtain biogas, a kind of renewable energy, from burning pistachio shells. While other areas might have abundant sources of wind power, or solar, Gaziantep couldn’t overlook the fact it was in possession of a huge number of pistachio shells.
Stage one of the plan is to run a pilot project for the new eco-friendly city in a scaled-down area of just 55 hectares. If this proves successful, then officials are keen to grow the operation so that it can supply a city which is expected to cover 3,200 hectares, and be home to more than 200,000 people by the time it’s fully developed.
Gulec was unable to provide a definite timeline for the project’s completion, but if officials at the municipal level can reach an agreement, and private land owners give their consent, it could become a reality in a “very short period of time.” It might seem like a strange way to power a city, but this kind of project also shows that sustainable efforts aren’t limited to the traditional forms of renewable energy – you just have to use a little bit of imagination.