`Córdoba Leading in Use and Production of Olive Biomass - Olive Oil Times

Córdoba Leading in Use and Production of Olive Biomass

Dec. 7, 2011
Julie Butler

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Biomass power plants, like this one planned in the UK cov­ered in native grasses, decrease car­bon emis­sions by 80% com­pared to coal or gas fired power sta­tions. Photo: Thomas Heatherwick

Byproducts of olive oil pro­duc­tion have made the Córdoba province Spain’s leader in energy pro­duc­tion from bio­mass.

According to Europa Press, the province has nine bio­mass plants which together pro­duce 83MW, pro­vid­ing the equiv­a­lent of the annual elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion of 247,700 house­holds.

Material derived from the olive oil sec­tor, includ­ing pomace and prun­ings, is the most used bio­mass source in Spain and Córdoba has a fourth of the country’s total sup­ply.

Various fac­tors are fuel­ing increased use of bio­mass in Andalusia, includ­ing improved tech­nol­ogy, a more informed pub­lic and incen­tives from the regional gov­ern­ment.

Among the pio­neers in bio­mass use was Córdoba’s Oleícola El Tejar olive oil co-oper­a­tive, which uses olive bio­mass, par­tic­u­larly prun­ings from its grow­ers, to power its own facil­i­ties. It now has four plants using bio­mass to gen­er­ate a com­bined total of 49MW.


And in the munic­i­pal­ity of Cañete de las Torresa, a plant owned by the Torres group was the first in the world to use the Japanese Kurata sys­tem to gen­er­ate bio­fuel from wet pomace. According to Renovables (Renewables) Made in Spain, the more than 100,000 hectares of olive groves sur­round­ing it pro­vide the 30,000 tonnes of wet pomace it needs to pro­duce 10,000 tons of bio­fu­els a year.

And then there is the 9.82MW elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion plant in Puente Genil, which has proved the via­bil­ity of har­ness­ing an olive bio­mass usu­ally con­sid­ered dif­fi­cult’ to use, namely that derived from prun­ing. Unlike bio­mass from pomace and olive stones (also known as pits or seeds), prun­ing mate­r­ial poses chal­lenges in logis­tics and con­sis­tency, but at this plant it com­prises half of total bio­mass con­sump­tion.

As for use of energy derived from bio­mass, accord­ing to Renewable Energy World, con­sump­tion of wood pel­lets in Spain is declin­ing because olive stones are cheaper and need no sig­nif­i­cant pro­cess­ing.

Perhaps unsur­pris­ingly, among Spain’s biggest users of bio­mass energy are those that also that gen­er­ate its source — olive oil mills and pro­cess­ing plants. Apart from being used to gen­er­ate hot water and steam in these plants, bio­mass energy is also heav­ily used in pomace extrac­tion.


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