AgriForValor Mission to Andalucia

October 2017

Published on 25-10-2017 15:38:16 by AGRIFORVALOR

CakePHP On the 18th and 19th of October 2017, members of the Irish AgriForValor network participated in a biobased mission in Andalucia, Spain traveling to sites of interest across the region.

The trip began on the 18th of October with a visit to the GIESA Agroenergia Biogas Plant in Malaga. Commissioned in 2016 at a cost of €4 million, the plant has capacity to transform 65,000 metric tons per year of agricultural waste into 2,200,000 Nm3 of biogas, equivalent to 1,600 kW, and nearly 10,000 metric tons of compost. The business model is built on long term agreements of heat supply to nearby agri-food companies.  The plant treats the waste generated in a number of farms and food industries in its immediate surroundings and the heat is piped to the consumers. The suppliers of the waste and the consumers of the biogas are all located within a radius of 4 km from the anaerobic digestion plant.

Next the members visited the NATAC – Oleicola El Tejar near Cordoba, where olive mill residues is processed into value-added products and energy. At the site a cascading approach is applied with mechanical (centrifuge) and chemical (solvent) extractions used to extract remaining oil (about 1% from each extraction), and a solvent (hexane) extraction of polyphenols which are purified and sold to nutraceutical and functional food companies. After extraction, the residual biomass is combusted to generate electricity in a 25MW generator. The ash is returned to the olive grove sites as a nutrient source closing the loop.

Staying in Cordoba the group visited the Valoriza Energía plant which processes olive mill residues. The process extracts remaining residual oils for the food market with the residual biomass is used for energy production. The residual biomass is used for energy (electricity and steam) production. The plant processes 75,000 tonnes of olive residues annually.

The next day, the partners visited a company called ENCE based in Huelba who operate a 50MW biomass power generation plant since 2013 at a site previously used for pulp production. The plant was designed with capacity for 500,000 tonnes of forestry biomass but have since begun to shift to cheaper agricultural sidestreams including straw, olive extracts, cotton shell.  They are currently expanding and adding an additional 40Mw to the process.

The partners then visited the Instituto de la Grasa which was founded in 1947 with the aim of contributing to the improvement and development of the industrial sectors related to fats. Since its founding, it has dedicated a special attention to the olive oil and table olive sector, which is of great economic and social relevance in Andalusia, contributing to improving the scientific and technological level of both sectors. At the pilot plant a range of research activities in valorising biomass are underway, including the production of protein isolates and hydrolysates with bioactivity, extraction of high value compounds from vegetable by-products through steam pre-treatment and purification and the production of biogas from anaerobic digestion of agricultural sidestreams.

The trip was informative for visiting countries. One thing that stood out, aside from the scale of olive production in Andalucia (Andalucia is the world’s largest producer of olive oil) was the strength and size of agricultural and forestry cooperatives in the region. This collaboration allows scale to be developed and enhances the negotiating power of the primary producers.