Second biomass plant from straw combustion in Spain connected to the grid

It is the first to use this type of fuel in the region of Castilla y León, central Spain. The facility, in which the Ente Regional de la Energía (EREN)-a public regional energy entity- participates with 15% of the capital, has meant an investment of 50 million euros, plus the creation of 100 permanent jobs (25 of the them direct jobs in the plant), as well as the 300 created during the construction phases. Through this plant ACCIONA strengthens its status as the main Spanish benchmark in the use of herbaceous agricultural waste for the production of electricity.

The 16-megawatt (MW) plant at Briviesca will burn around 102,000 metric tons of straw a year to produce around 128 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy, equivalent to the consumption of around 40,000 homes. This will avoid the emission of 123,000 metric tons of CO2 from conventional coal-fired power stations, with a cleaning effect on the atmosphere equivalent to 6 million trees through the process of photosynthesis.

ACCIONA Energy has carried out the development, engineering and construction of the plant and will operate it under its ownership. It has guaranteed the supply of raw material -mainly from Burgos and Palencia provinces - through medium- and long-term supply contracts with over 100 farmers and 38 companies based in Castilla y Leon. The plant has already sent its first kilowatts to the grid this week, as part of a trial phase prior to full-scale production that will last three months.

To materialize this project, an essential factor has been ACCIONA Energy's experience in the use of biomass for energy purposes, both in the engineering, construction and operation of this type of plant and in the supply logistics for the fuel. This second area is very important in order to ensure the efficiency and profitablility of this type of installation.

The company already has one biomass plant from straw combustion, a 25 MW facility at Sangüesa (Navarra). It started its trial phase in 2002 and now produces 200 million kilowatt-hours a year through the combustion of 160,000 metric tons of straw. It also has another two electricity production plants from biomass (forestry and timber waste) - both of 4 MW - in the provinces of Soria and Cuenca.

Next plant at Miajadas (Caceres province)

ACCIONA has another biomass plant (16 MW) at a very advanced stage of construction, located at Miajadas (Cáceres). It will enter service in the last quarter of this year. Like the Briviesca plant, it is listed in the Register of Preallocation of Special Regime Installations. Its main raw material will use herbaceous biomass, with some forestry waste products also used.

The company is currently processing five projects for biomass plants, and they are different stages of administrative processing: two in Castilla y Leon - Almazan (16 MW) in Soria and Valencia de Don Juan (25 MW) in Leon-; another two in Castilla La Mancha -Alcazar de San Juan (Ciudad Real) and Mohorte (Cuenca), both with 16 MW- and Utiel (9 MW) in the region of Valencia.

A reference in the sector

The plants at Sangüesa and Briviesca (totaling 41 MW) already guarantee ACCIONA annual production of around 328 million kilowatt-hours (GWh) in 2011, with an estimated consumption of straw at 262,000 metric tons per annum.

The planned facilities at Almazan (Soria) and Valencia de Don Juan (León) - currently at an advance stage of administrative processing - will give the company a further 41 MW of electricity generation production from herbaceous biomass by the end of 2013/2014. By the same date over half a million metric tons of agricultural waste will be mobilized for this purpose in the north of Spain.

This will create, in the words of senior managers of ACCIONA Energy, "considerable synergies between the company's biomass plants, guaranteeing optimal supply while providing interesting opportunities for growth for its suppliers".

Including the plants built before Miajadas, ACCIONA will reach 98 MW from herbaceous biomass in the aboe timeframe, representing a very considerable part of the objectives planned for this type of generation in the Spain's energy planning schedule for 2011-2020.

If the situation in the financial markets settles down in the next few years ACCIONA Energy managers estimate that this activity will allow the Group to "consolidate itself as the main Spanish reference in this type of renewable generation installations, strongly associated with the economic development of rural areas".