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Repsol to build Spain's first advanced biofuels plant in Cartagena

Spain-headed oil and multi-energy major Repsol S.A has announced that it will invest EUR 188 million to build the first production plant for advanced biofuels in Spain at its Cartagena refinery. This new facility, which includes the commissioning of a hydrogen plant that will supply a new hydrotreatment unit will have an annual capacity to produce 250 000 tonnes of advanced biofuels for road transportation and aviation.

Repsol is investing EUR 188 million in an advanced biofuels unit at its Cartagena refinery in Spain (photo courtesy Repsol).

The announced project is part of Repsol’s commitment to the energy transition and its goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The advanced biofuels produced at the Cartagena refinery will enable a reduction of 900 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually

A cutting-edge project

With this state-of-the-art decarbonization project, Repsol is also making a commitment to developing the industrial sector and generating economic activity in Spain while promoting direct, indirect, and induced employment.

With the support of auxiliary companies, the construction and commissioning work for the plant will be carried out in different phases and will require the work of some 1 000 professionals from diverse fields.

On October 22, 2020, Repsol Chairman Antonio Brufau met with the President of the Murcia Region, Fernando López Miras, at the seat of the regional government, to explain the details of the new Repsol advanced biofuels plant, an important project for Cartagena and for the region as a whole in terms of generating economic activity and employment.

At the ensuing press conference, Repsol CEO Josu Jon Imaz stressed the importance of this pioneering project in Spain.

With this initiative, we at Repsol are decisively promoting a new technological route that will be key in our path towards carbon neutrality. It is added to the projects we have already implemented in energy efficiency, low-emissions electricity generation, renewable hydrogen, circular economy, synthetic fuels, and CO2 capture, use, and storage, among others. Spain must base its decarbonization strategy on its industrial and technological capabilities because that will be the way to promote a competitive and innovative business fabric. All forms of decarbonization are valid and complementary and incentivizing them so that they can all contribute, without exclusion, will accelerate the energy transition and help us, as a society, achieve a speedy economic recovery, so necessary under the current circumstances of the coronavirus (COVID-19 )pandemic, Josu Jon Imaz said.

In line with a net-zero strategy

In December 2019, Repsol announced that it was orienting its strategy to become a net-zero emissions company by 2050, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, making it one of the first companies in its sector to adopt this ambitious goal.

The company emphasized circular economy solutions along with the help of all the available technologies – energy efficiency, renewable generation, biofuels, synthetic fuels  – as tools for the efficient use of resources. It noted that it will double the production of high-quality biofuels from vegetable oils (HVO) to 600 000 tonnes by 2030, half of which will be produced from waste before 2025.

Repsol has been including biofuels in its automotive fuels for over two decades. In recent years, it has been increasing the biofuel content, and in 2020 the energy percentage reached 8.5 percent, in line with Spanish regulatory requirements that translate the country’s commitments as agreed within the EU.

The European institutions have already laid out a roadmap through a new directive that proposes a minimum of 14 percent renewable energy in transportation by the year 2030. In addition, Spanish legislation establishes, in the Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate (PNIEC), a stricter target of 28 percent renewable energy in transportation for 2030.

An illustration of the planned advanced biofuels unit at Repsol’s Cartagena refinery in Spain (graphic courtesy Repsol).

With this new project, Repsol says it stays one step ahead of the regulatory framework and decisively advances towards its goal of becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2050. This year, it expects to reduce its Carbon Intensity Index by 3 percent compared to the 2016 baseline, and it is significantly increasing its renewable power generation capacity to reach the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

The company announced in June of this year that it will launch two major cutting-edge industrial decarbonization projects at its Petronor refinery in the Port of Bilbao. Additionally, with the objective of evolving towards a low-emissions energy model, Repsol produced the first batch of biojet for aviation in the Spanish market at its Puertollano refinery in July.

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