Movialsa, Spain

Size: 5.9 MWe

Project status: Commissioned.

Background: Spain produces approximately four million tonnes of olive pomace waste annually. Because it contains high concentrations of polyphenols, lipids and organic acids, if olive wet pomace is not properly dried and disposed of, it seeps into the ground, changing the acidity and polluting soil and water. This is becoming a significant issue for the industry throughout the Mediterranean region.

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More information: Combustion of dried olive pomace waste in biomass boilers or combustion plants is becoming more difficult due to environmental legislation. The energy costs of producing olive oil are also increasing year on year.

In 2011, EQTEC built a gasification plant for our client, Movialsa in Ciudad Real, Spain to help solve this problem using a unique specialisation in converting this agricultural food waste into pure syngas. Olive pomace waste is a difficult feedstock to process due to its high content of sodium and potassium, alkaline metals with very low melting points. The second challenge was the need to make seasonal adjustments to the balance of electricity and heat production from the plant.

Over the years, we have developed and perfected our Advanced Gasification Technology at this plant. As a result, we’ve been able to process olive pomace residue successfully, creating the first fully operational business case in the world for this feedstock, operating without subsidies or incentives.

Since 2011, the plant has clocked in over 110,000 audited operating hours through its 3 GE Jenbacher engines, fed by a single EQTEC gasifier, producing 5.9 MWe of electricity and 6.6 MWt of steam – all from “difficult” to process olive pomace waste. This means not only is the plant successful, it is also the oldest and largest commercial scale gasification plant in this industry.