During a formal ceremony in Brussels, Belgium, the Ecoplanta Molecular Solutions (Ecoplanta) project signed its grant agreement with the European Commission to carry out a large-scale project under the Innovation Fund.
The Innovation Fund call for large-scale projects was first launched last year by the Commission to support breakthrough technologies in the energy-intensive industries, renewables, energy storage, and carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS).
Sole Spanish project
One of seven European projects to finally be selected, the Ecoplanta project is the only Spanish candidate selected in this Innovation Fund call.
It aims to transform municipal solid waste (MSW) management by using non-recyclable materials rejected by sorting centers to produce circular chemicals and advanced biofuels.
High-level representatives from all three Ecoplanta founding companies – Agbar, Repsol, and Enerkem – attended the signing ceremony. At the same time, Clara de la Torre, Deputy Director-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA), and Dirk Beckers, Director of the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), represented the European Commission.
We are boosting this solution based on our joint capabilities in waste management and our knowledge of the territory where Ecoplanta will be located and the need to advance in the search for landfill alternatives. Being able to build partnerships at all stages is key to the success of this project, said Joaquin Suescun, Circular Economy and Decarbonization Director at Agbar.
Significant GHG reduction
The Ecoplanta project was recognized for its Canadian gasification technology, which was especially noteworthy for its innovation, reduction of carbon emissions, and scalability.
As we strive to deploy Enerkem’s unique technology on an international scale, Ecoplanta will demonstrate our unique know-how in providing an innovative and sustainable solution to solve both waste management and the dependency on fossil-based products for a transition towards a circular economy, said Denis Arguin, VP of Commercial Development at Enerkem.
Located in a petrochemical complex in El Morell, near the Port of Tarragona in Spain, the plant will produce 240 000 tonnes per annum of methanol and recover 70 percent of the carbon present in the non-recyclable materials.
At Repsol, we are extraordinarily pleased to welcome the European Commission’s support of the Ecoplanta project. This support and Repsol’s experience in implementing major industrial projects, especially one so aligned with our decarbonization goal and our commitment to the circular economy, will surely guarantee this joint project’s success, said Javier Sancho, Director of Repsol’s Industrial Complex in Tarragona.
Based on the Innovation Fund methodology, the project will achieve a reduction of 3.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the first ten years of operation. Thus, the Ecoplanta project is aligned with the European Union’s decarbonization and climate change mitigation goals.
The ceremony also included speeches from prominent institutional representatives from Spain and Canada present during the event, Albert Castellanos, General Secretary for Business and Competitiveness, Generalitat de Catalunya, and Geneviève Brisson, Delegate General of Québec in Brussels.
This vote of confidence towards the Ecoplanta project is a major accomplishment since the European Commission Innovation Fund focuses on highly innovative technologies and big flagship projects within Europe to enable significant GHG emission reductions. It also focuses on projects that can be replicated across Europe to accelerate GHG reduction, ended Denis Arguin.
Ecoplanta Molecular Solutions (Ecoplanta), the material recovery project in El Morell, is the result of a joint venture between Agbar, a leader in environmental services, and part of Veolia, the global multi-energy company Repsol and Enerkem, a pioneer in molecular recycling.
Ecoplanta will be the first plant in Spain to produce circular methanol from treated municipal solid waste (MSW), mainly from the surrounding eco-parks. Furthermore, with its emphasis on maximizing carbon recycling from residual waste materials, Ecoplanta will contribute to the 2035 European Waste Framework Directive target in addition to Catalan and Spanish waste programs and circular economy strategies.
In essence, the project will accelerate the transition from a linear resource-based economy to a circular economy, which is one of the world’s most pressing economic, political and social challenges.
The plant is expected to be commissioned by 2026.