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Repsol begins renewable diesel, SAF production in Cartagena, Spain

Photo: Repsol

Repsol announced April 3 that it has begun large-scale production of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at its industrial complex in Cartagena, Spain.


This plant is the first on the Iberian Peninsula dedicated exclusively to the production of 100 percent renewable fuels, according to Repsol.


The company has invested 250 million euros (USD$271.3 million) in the construction of the unit, which has a production capacity of 250,000 tons per year (more than 80 million gallons per year).


The company first announced the Cartagena project in late 2020.


The renewable fuels are produced from organic waste such as used cooking oil or agri-food waste.


The production of 100 percent renewable fuels at the plant in Cartagena will avoid the emission of 900,000 tons of CO2 a year, since they reduce net emissions by 90 percent compared to the fossil fuel that they replace due to their lower carbon intensity.


Repsol’s executive managing director of industrial transformation and circular economy, Juan Abascal, highlighted the milestone that the start of industrial-scale production of 100 percent renewable fuels represents for the company.


“With this first plant on the Iberian Peninsula, we are taking another step forward in our transformation towards decarbonization with a cutting-edge technological project,” Abascal said.


The new plant will process 300,000 tons of organic waste a year, prioritizing residues of national and European origin.


Repsol is certified under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification System’s EU voluntary sustainability scheme and the Spanish National Sustainability Verification System, ensuring traceability and the production of sustainable biofuels in accordance with the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive standards.


In order to meet the growing demand of raw materials with lower carbon intensity to produce renewable fuels, Repsol has signed a strategic agreement with Bunge by which it acquires 40 percent of three industrial facilities operated by Bunge Ibérica dedicated to the production of oils and biofuels in Bilbao, Barcelona and Cartagena, close to Repsol’s industrial complexes.


With this alliance, Repsol increases its access to a wide portfolio of low-carbon raw materials to produce renewable fuels.


Repsol has formed alliances for the supply of renewable fuels with leading heavy-duty vehicles companies in Spain and Portugal such as Scania, Grupo Sesé, XPO, Serveto, Havi, Joanca, Carreras, Rhenus and Luis Simoes; with end customers such as Coca Cola, Freixenet, and Seat; with companies in the passenger-transport sector in Spain, such as Alsa and Avanza; and with maritime-shipping companies such as Royal Caribbean.


To promote the use of SAF, Repsol has signed agreements with airlines such as Iberia, Ryanair, Vueling and Air Europa for commercial flights.


The acrobatic unit of the Spanish air force, the Eagle Patrol, demonstrated the efficiency of this type of fuel in the National Day parade in October 2022.


The deployment of this type of fuel has also reached the company’s service stations on the Iberian Peninsula.


At present, Repsol supplies 100 percent renewable fuel at more than 140 locations in the main cities and transport corridors of Spain and Portugal.


The company’s goal is to reach 600 by the end of this year and 1,900 by 2027.


The new plant in Cartagena, whose production of 100 percent renewable fuels represents 5 percent of total diesel output of the facility or 17 percent of its kerosene production, will be followed by a second one in Puertollano in 2025.


With an investment of 120 million euros (USD$130.2 million), a unit at this industrial complex will be converted to produce 240,000 tons of renewable fuel.


Repsol also plans to replicate this model in a third industrial center in Spain before 2030.


At the same time, the company is committed to synthetic fuels (eFuels), which are produced from renewable hydrogen and CO2 captured from the atmosphere, with an industrial demonstration-plant project in the vicinity of its Petronor complex in Bilbao.


Abascal highlighted Repsol’s commitment to transforming its six industrial complexes on the Iberian Peninsula into decarbonized multi-energy hubs, capable of treating all types of raw materials to produce materials with a low-carbon footprint.


New business models based on digitalization and technology will be promoted in these centers.


The company’s industrial transformation will rest on four pillars: energy efficiency, circular economy, renewable hydrogen and CO2 capture, use and storage.


“Our roadmap demonstrates Repsol’s commitment to industry, to generating employment and prosperity,” Abascal said. “Thus, we contribute to the development and territorial cohesion in less-favored areas, offering solutions that increase Spain’s energy independence.”


Repsol aims to reach a total production capacity of renewable fuels, including renewable hydrogen and biomethane, of between 1.5 million and 1.7 million tons in 2027 and up to 2.7 million tons in 2030, and to lead the market in Spain and Portugal for this type of fuel.


Repsol said it has one of the most efficient refining systems in Europe thanks to average investments of approximately 1 billion euros (USD$1.08 billion) a year over the past decade, a period in which the European Union has lost 24 refineries—the equivalent of around 10 percent of its production capacity of the fuels that are used in most of road transport.


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