Decarbonize industry in Spain thanks to bioenergy

The commitment we have made on a global scale to reduce greenhouse gas emissions requires decarbonizing the industry. This unavoidable challenge, together with sustainability, must become an opportunity to increase the competitiveness of companies. In Spain we have several exemplary projects led by companies from various sectors, which demonstrate the potential of biomass to transform the energy model in the industry.

Biomass offers significant benefits. On the one hand, by replacing fossil fuels, it can generate considerable economic savings and reduce CO2 emissions. On the other hand, and no less important, it supports the sustainability and circular economy initiatives of companies, positioning them as leaders in the energy transition for the rest of society.

Examples such as the project of the largest sugar company in the country, ACOR, which will completely cover its enormous energy needs with biomass, or those of Nestlé, La Seda, Grupo García Carrión and companies in sectors such as orujeras, greenhouses or bakeries show the advantages of biomass as an energy source.

Cogeneration in sugar factory

The agricultural cooperative ACOR, owner of the largest beet-based sugar factory in Spain, in collaboration with ENSO, is building the largest biomass cogeneration project in Spain in the town of Olmedo (Valladolid). With 80 MWt of power, it will produce 346,000 tons of process steam and 45,000 MWh of electrical energy for self-consumption per year, enough to cover all the sugar factory's needs.

As an energy source, it will use 90,000 tons per year of forest biomass of sustainable origin certified under the European SURE scheme. The choice of this fuel, renewable and local, and independent of external conflicts instead of using imported natural gas, increases the competitiveness of the cooperative and allows it to advance in its decarbonization process by avoiding the emission of 60,000 tons of CO2 per year . In addition, the facility will generate direct work for 30 people and indirect work for another 60.

Organic by-products

The food industry, which consumes 14% of the total energy used in the national industry, has the strategic asset of valorizing the biomass byproducts it generates to guarantee energy supply and price stability.

For example, Nestlé Spain has invested more than 56 million euros in environmental sustainability projects in its factories over the last five years. Among these projects, the biomass boiler in its Gerona factory stands out, which converts coffee or brown grounds into energy, reducing natural gas consumption by 25% annually. A clear example of a circular economy, where the byproducts of the production process are reused for energy.

Another paradigmatic case is the García Carrión Group, which has counted on bioenergy as one of its most important renewable energy sources for 20 years. The group uses biomass boilers and biogas reactors, thanks to which they cover more than 25% of the company's total energy needs, valorizing different by-products such as pruning remains, nut shells, grape seeds, olive mill bones or marc. extracted.

Since 2015, in the Villalonquéjar industrial estate, in Burgos, the trigeneration plant, owned by Somacyl, supplies hot water, cold water, steam and 100% renewable electricity to the L'Oréal factory. The network has been expanded three times since then with new local forest biomass boilers to supply more companies in the area.

Bioenergy and energy transition

The use of local biomass of sustainable origin to decarbonize the industry in Spain allows reducing CO2 emissions, since it is a renewable energy source, increasing energy security by reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels and controlling operating costs.

Although promising sources of energy such as hydrogen must continue to be developed, the truth is that biomass is now available and can, and should, be used by the national industry to lead its energy transition. Even industries that do not have recoverable by-products can take advantage of the advantages of biomass thanks to energy service companies, which are responsible for producing and supplying energy while they attend to their main business.

Finally, in the very near future, BECCS (Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage) technologies will offer additional potential for biomass in the industrial sector by combining the production of renewable energy with the removal of atmospheric CO2. These technologies will be essential to achieve the net zero emissions goals that the EU has set itself. Implementing BECCS in industries already using biomass would accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

These cases and many more can be seen at EXPOBIOMASA 2025, organized by AVEBOIM at the Valladolid Fair.