A new project is gradually taking shape that will see the first waste-to-chemicals plant being built on the Iberian peninsula. The initiative, known as Ecoplanta, is from Spanish multi-energy company Repsol, who announced 27 April it would participate in the project; Montreal-based firm Enerkem; and Agbar, a global expert in water and waste management. The three are forming a joint venture called Ecoplanta Molecular Recycling Solutions, to build a waste-to-chemicals plant in Tarragona, Spain.
The site choice is a favourable one for Repsol, who operates a large-scale industrial complex in Tarragona. The planned plant will allow for synergies among the facilities and represents a further step towards Repsol’s ambition to become a net-zero emissions company by 2050.
The facility will have a processing capacity of around 400,000 tons of non-recyclable municipal solid waste, which will be collected from the surrounding regions, and an output of some 220,000 tons of methanol. This methanol will serve as a raw material for the production of circular materials or advanced biofuels and contribute to avoiding 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions - as well as reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfill.
A final investment decision will be taken by the first quarter of 2022. The project has already obtained the Integrated Environmental Authorisation and approval of the Environmental Impact Statement from the local authorities. If all goes according to plan, the plant will be co-managed by Repsol and Agbar, while Enerkem will be the key technological partner. It is scheduled to go into operation in 2025.
The gasification technology, on which the plant will be based, is proprietary, patented technology developed by Enerkem. The plant will be the first to operate on an industrial scale. The technology has been tested over the past decade, first at pilot and then demonstration scale. Enerkem is currently running a commercial demonstration plant at Edmonton (Alberta, Canada), while a new facility is also under construction in Varennes (Québec, Canada).
With this significant investment, the project has been selected to move into stage 2 of the European Union Innovation Fund, which focuses on highly innovative technologies and major emission-reduction flagship projects inside Europe.