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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Construction begins on largest second-generation biofuels plant in southern Europe


Photo: Cepsa
Cepsa and Bio-Oils report that their new second-generation biofuels plant in Spain with Apical, currently under construction, will emit 75% less CO2 than a traditional biofuel plant and will achieve net zero emissions in the medium term

Photo: Cepsa

Cepsa and Bio-Oils recently broke ground on what they claim will be the largest second-generation biofuels plant in southern Europe. Located in Spain, the facility will double their current production capacity to 1mn tonnes when it comes onstream in 2026.

The new plant will produce 500,000 t/y of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel (hydrogenated vegetable oil, or HVO), using agricultural waste or used cooking oils as feedstock supplied through a long-term agreement with vegetable oil producer Apical, promoting the circular economy.  


Using renewable hydrogen and electricity as well as various heat recovery and energy efficiency systems, the facility is claimed to be able to emit 75% less CO2 than a traditional biofuel plant and is designed to achieve net zero emissions in the medium term, according to the project partners.  


Furthermore, it will only use reclaimed water, and incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), they add.


In addition to SAF and renewable diesel, the plant will also produce biogas, a fundamental raw material for the production of green hydrogen, which is expected to play an important role in decarbonising industry and in the production of fertilisers. Biogenic CO2 will also be captured from the treatment of biogas, which is essential for the production of green methanol with the intention of decarbonising maritime transport. Cespa recently unveiled plans with C2X to turn the Port of Huelva, Spain, into Europe’s main green methanol hub. As such, the new biofuels project is a key element of the entire Andalusian Green Hydrogen Valley ecosystem being led by Cepsa.


The creation of one of the largest renewable fuel complexes in Europe is part of Cepsa’s stated goal of leading second-generation biofuel production in Spain and Portugal. It plans to develop an annual production capacity of 2.5mn tonnes of biofuels this decade, of which 800,000 tonnes will be SAF. Last year, the company reportedly became the first to permanently offer SAF produced in its facilities from agricultural waste and used cooking oils at five of Spain’s main airports: Madrid, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Seville and Malaga. It also offers these biofuels in 60 Spanish ports.


The start of construction was celebrated at a ceremony attended by Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, President of the Regional Government of Andalusia; Teresa Ribera, Third Vice President and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge; Maarten Wetselaar, CEO of Cepsa; Anderson Tanoto, Managing Director, RGE, which manages a group of resource-based manufacturing companies including Apical and Bio-Oils; and Pratheepan Karunagaran, Executive Director of Apical (see headline photo).


Commenting on the project, Wetselaar said: ‘This strategic project for Spain and Andalusia will make us a European benchmark in the field of green molecules and facilitate the immediate decarbonisation of sectors that cannot run on electrons, like aviation.’


Karunagaran added: ‘The global production of SAF is expected to triple in 2024, compared to the 2023 levels, reaching 1.5mn tonnes. Yet, the availability of sustainably available feedstock remains a challenge for many countries. As we continue to expand Apical’s global footprint and capacities, the availability of waste and residue is set to grow in tandem, enabling value-added partnerships to be forged for our waste stream to drive the production and adoption of SAF. Our 2G [second generation] biofuels plant with Cepsa will be the largest aviation fuel processing facility in southern Europe.’


Click here to read more about biofuels and bioenergy sustainability and traceability in Europe.



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