• Ron Kotrba

Repsol joins Enerkem, Agbar to build waste-to-methanol plant in Tarragona, Spain


Photo: Repsol

Spanish energy company Repsol is joining forces with Canadian firm Enerkem and Grupo Agbar, a Spain-based water and waste management business, to build a waste-to-chemicals plant in Tarragona, Spain. Under the joint venture Ecoplanta Molecular Recycling Solutions, the plant will process around 400,000 metric tons per year (tpy) of nonrecyclable municipal solid waste from the surrounding region and produce 220,000 tpy of methanol. Among numerous other uses, methanol is utilized in biodiesel production.


The plant, being dubbed as the first of its kind on the Iberian Peninsula, will be comanaged by Repsol and Agbar. The plant is expected to be operational in 2025, once a final investment decision is made early next year. According to Repsol, the project has already received environmental permits from local authorities.


Enerkem is the project’s key technological partner. The plant will use gasification technology to transform municipal solid waste into value-added products such as methanol. Enerkem has patented the technology, which has been tested and scaled up from pilot to demonstration to commercial scale over the past decade. Enerkem’s technology has been deployed in a commercial demo plant in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and it is being used in a new facility under construction in Varennes, Quebec, Canada.


“We are proud to welcome Repsol as a partner to further support our Tarragona facility,” said Dominique Boies, CEO and chief financial officer of Enerkem. “Their strong expertise of the industry, coupled with that of Agbar, will enable us to feature the numerous benefits associated with our unique disruptive technology, transforming waste into renewable plastics or advanced biofuels.”


Repsol owns a petrochemical complex in Tarragona where Repsol coprocessed sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) earlier this year. The company is also developing a renewable diesel and SAF biorefinery 330 miles south of Tarragona in Cartagena, Spain.


“We are very pleased to join forces with relevant waste management and innovative technology partners, showing our commitment to circular economy and reinforcing our commitment to recycle 20 percent of our polyolefins production by 2030,” said Jose Luis Bernal, Repsol’s executive director for chemicals.


The project has been selected to move into the second stage of the European Union Innovation Fund, which focuses on innovative technologies and big projects within Europe to enable significant emission reductions.

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