GRUPO HUNOSA promotes Biomass Technology and Business Hub in Asturias

The initiative has a twofold objective: to provide fuel to the La Pereda power plant and to provide a backbone for a sector that is underdeveloped in Asturias, with a view to boosting economic activity and employment through forest management.

Within its strategy of business diversification into renewable energies, GRUPO HUNOSA – the company that for decades led coal mining in Spain – is promoting the creation of a Biomass Technology and Business Hub in Asturias. The aim is to create a group of companies and organisations associated with this forest resource, establish synergies and contribute to the growth of a very fragmented and underdeveloped sector in the central area of Asturias, despite the great potential of biomass as a generator of economic activity and employment. This was announced today by the company’s president, Gregorio Rabanal, at the technical seminars of the 13th Asturforesta International Forestry Fair, currently taking place in Tineo.

GRUPO HUNOSA’s promotion of this biomass hub in Asturias is part of the company’s diversification process. The group, which belongs to Spanish state holding company Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI) is seeking to diversify into the generation of energy from renewable sources and other environment-related activities.

With respect to renewable energies, biomass is a priority for HUNOSA. On the one hand, the company is seeking to transform its power plant in La Pereda (Mieres) by using this forest resource to replace coal as the main fuel. Moreover, it is seeking to foster the use of forest resources in Asturias for the purpose of generating biomass-based economic activity and employment, thus helping to curb rural depopulation.

The initiative has been received with great interest by companies and professionals in the agroforestry and forest management sector. Moreover, it is in line with the European Green Deal objective to make the European Union the first climate-neutral territory by 2050, and with the Spanish Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and promote renewable energies in Spain between now and 2030. It is also an action that will promote decarbonisation and the circular bioeconomy by involving all actors in the Asturian biomass sector, including publicly-owned and private companies, associations, educational bodies and research centres, etc.

The sector in Asturias is currently very fragmented and made up of small companies dedicated to forestry, logging and wood processing. It lacks the leadership and structure needed for the development of joint actions that would bring benefits to all. This is the case despite the fact that half of the territory’s surface area is occupied by forest resources. In terms of biomass exploitation, the most important opportunities are associated with the most productive tree species in the region: eucalyptus, pine and chestnut. 

Biomass technologies represent one of the most important renewable sub-sectors in Asturias. The promotion of these technologies as a source of sustainable electricity generation is a great opportunity to accelerate the energy transition process in the region.

In this context, HUNOSA is planning to transform the La Pereda facility into a 50 MW biomass power plant. The nearby forest area has been assessed for the use of biomass resources in central Asturias for energy purposes. In addition, the company will implement new Forestry Use Plans for its own land. At the same time, it is promoting the Biomass Technology and Business Hub as a driver of the biomass sector in Asturias. The aim is for the hub to act as a unifying and coordinating element for companies and the different actors in the sector, and to accelerate the regional energy transition process, with the collaboration of the main sectoral associations.