During a formal ceremony in Brussels, Ecoplanta signed its grant agreement with the European Commission to carry out a large-scale project under the Innovation Fund. The non-recyclable waste solution project, Ecoplanta, has been recognized for its highly innovative technology and stands out for its contribution to climate change mitigation, making it worthy of the European Commission’s support from among the over 300 projects submitted. 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.
The Ecoplanta project, one of seven at European level and the only Spanish candidacy selected in this Innovation Fund call, aims to transform municipal solid waste (MSW) management by using non-recyclable materials rejected by sorting centers to produce circular chemicals and advanced biofuels. The Ecoplanta project was recognized for its gasification technology, which was especially noteworthy for its innovation, reduction of carbon emissions and scalability.
Located in a petrochemical complex in El Morell, near the port of Tarragona in Spain, the plant will produce 240 kt/y of methanol and recover 70% of the carbon present in the non-recyclable materials. Based on the Innovation Fund methodology, the project will achieve a reduction of 3.4 Mt 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.
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.
According to Joaquin Suescun, Circular Economy and Decarbonization Director at Agbar: “We, as leaders in environmental solutions, have been consistent in making possible and promoting this major project, which is becoming a benchmark in decarbonization, climate change mitigation and the move towards the circular economy, and which exemplifies the kind of concrete solutions necessary for the ecological transformation. We are boosting this solution based on our joint capabilities in waste management and on 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 for the success of this project”.
Javier Sancho, Director of Repsol’s Industrial Complex in Tarragona, said: “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”.
In Denis Arguin’s words, Vice President of Commercial Development at Enerkem: “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. 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.”
The ceremony also included speeches from a 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.
Ecoplanta Molecular Solutions, the material recovery project in El Morell (Tarragona), is the result of a joint venture between Agbar, leader in environmental services and part of Veolia, the global multi-energy company Repsol and Enerkem, 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 most pressing economic, political and social challenges of our time.
The plant is expected to be commissioned by 2026.
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