Advanced biofuel plant planned to open in 2022
Pioneering Canadian/French joint project aims to build recycling centre in Tarragona region for €250m
A Canadian company and a French firm are together planning to open a plant in Catalonia to turn solid urban waste into biofuel. The joint project involving Montreal-based firm Enerkem and the Suez utility company would see the new plant open in the southern town of El Morell, near Tarragona, under the name Ecoplanta Molecular Recycling Solutions. Permission to go ahead with the project was provided by the local authorities on Tuesday evening.
With an expected investment of more than 250 million euros, it is estimated that building the biomass plant would create some 700 jobs and, after it becomes operational, will directly and indirectly provide work for some 200 people. On Wednesday, the two companies applied to the Catalan authorities for the necessary environmental permits to go ahead with the project, which could be up and running in 2022.
Plant in Edmonton
Enerkem and Suez intend to build the advanced recycling plant for the commercial production of the environmentally friendly biofuel, green methanol. Enerkem currently has the patent for the innovative recycling process and already has one plant working in Edmonton, in Canada, with another awaiting permission to be built in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. The Morell plant would be the first of its kind in Spain.
The plant would use the raw material generated in Catalonia’s Ecoparcs, which treat urban solid waste. At the moment, only 10% of this waste is recycled, with the rest being incinerated or buried. However, the Morell plant would be able to take advantage of much of this non-recycled waste to produce biofuel using Enerkem’s patented process, which also keeps gas emissions to a minimum.
375,000 tonnes of waste to be treated
Estimates suggest that once the plant is up and running it will be able to treat some 375,000 tonnes of waste -mainly plastic, paper and textiles- that will be turned into 265,000 tonnes of green methanol. The process currently allows for the recycling of 70% of the waste, with the rest turned into carbon dioxide or solid waste. However, the hope is that in the future the process will be perfected to be able to recycle 100% of the waste treated.