Repsol to develop two major emissions-reductions projects in Spain

The first project involves building one of the world’s largest plants to manufacture net zero emissions fuels, using CO2 and green hydrogen generated with renewable energy. The second project is a plant for generation of gas from urban waste which will replace part of the traditional fuels used in Petronor’s production process.

The first project involves building one of the world’s largest plants to manufacture net zero emissions fuels, using CO2 and green hydrogen generated with renewable energy. The second project is a plant for generation of gas from urban waste which will replace part of the traditional fuels used in Petronor’s production process.

The CEO of Repsol, Josu Jon Imaz, today presented two pioneering industrial decarbonization projects that the company will undertake with the participation of prominent Spanish and international partners. The facilities, to be located in the port of Bilbao and its surrounding area as a first option, will represent a combined initial investment of approximately 80 million euros.

This way, Repsol continues to take decisive steps to lead the energy transition and towards the goal of becoming a net zero emissions company by 2050. The initiative represents a new example of the public-private collaboration needed to address challenges such as the fight against climate change and to promote the value-added industrial sector as one of the keys to achieving a rapid economic recovery.

The first project, in which 60 million euros will initially be invested, involves building one of the largest net zero emissions synthetic fuel production plants in the world, based on green hydrogen generated with renewable energy. The main feature of these new fuels is that they are produced using water and CO2 as the only raw materials. They can be used in the combustion engines that are currently installed in automobiles in Spain and the rest of the world, as well as in airplanes, trucks, and other machinery.

Repsol’s partners include Petronor, one of Spain’s principal industrial centres; and the Energy Agency of the Basque Government (EVE), a public-sector leader in the energy transition.

The facility, which will be fully operational within four years, will set a new benchmark in Europe thanks to the cutting-edge technology applied and the use of CO2 captured in the nearby Petronor refinery. Its development represents a first-order technological challenge that will be led by the Repsol Technology Lab research center. It will combine green hydrogen—a 100% clean energy generated from renewable sources—with CO2 as the raw materials in the process, and it will position Repsol on the leading edge of the development of net zero emissions fuels.

In the first phase, which will be scalable in a later commercial stage depending on the results obtained, 50 barrels of synthetic fuel will be produced per day, with net zero emissions of CO2 in the entire production cycle. Conceptual engineering will begin this year. Petronor is the only refinery in the Iberian Peninsula and one of few in Europe that has integrated the process of capture, storage, and use of CO2, and it is expected to be able to capture the CO2 directly from the air.

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The second project, which will be located next to the first one, also with the port of Bilbao and its surrounding area as the priority option, will represent an initial investment of 20 million euros. Led by Petronor, it will consist of a plant for generation of gas from urban waste. The generated gas will be used to replace part of the traditional fuels that the Basque refinery, one of the largest in Spain, currently uses in its production process.

This second initiative aligns with Repsol’s strategy of promoting the circular economy which is applied in many phases of the company’s production cycle through technology and innovation. Repsol has already implemented over 200 projects in this area which it has identified as one of the key levers for achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

In its first stage, this pyrolysis plant will be able to process around 10,000 tons of urban waste a year, and its capacity could be increased in later stages to approximately 100,000 tons a year, equivalent to all the urban waste produced in the surrounding area.

The initiatives presented today will represent a major boost to the technological and industrial developments associated with the decarbonization plans that are vital in the current context of economic recovery and of focus on the sectors that offer greater added value.

According to Josu Jon Imaz, “these projects highlight the importance of maintaining technological neutrality in the search for the alternatives necessary for decarbonization, taking into account all possible technological solutions for achieving success in the fight against climate change, without prejudices, committing to those that contribute to reaching our goals in the most efficient and sustainable way possible and supporting our industry.”

“Spain must base its decarbonization strategy on its technological and industrial capabilities. The production of green hydrogen in combination with the capture and use of CO2 to produce net zero emission fuels is part of the industrial decarbonization strategy of Repsol. With this project, the Spanish industry is positioning itself to become a leading European player in reducing emissions”, said the CEO.

To Imaz, “all forms of decarbonization are valid and complementary, and incentivizing them so that all of them can contribute, without exception, will accelerate the progress of the energy transition while also helping us, as a society, to emerge from the crisis caused by COVID-19 as rapidly as possible.” The CEO of Repsol reaffirmed the company’s commitment to “leading the energy transition even in these times of economic uncertainty in which we also want to strengthen our role as a company that contributes to the country’s industrial development.”

Emiliano López Atxurra, Chairman of Petronor, a company that is part of the Repsol Group, said that “the project unifies three important characteristics in the current situation: a commitment to reduce the carbon footprint and the technological neutrality as a lever; the challenges that the industry and technology are facing in relation to the energy transition; and public-private partnerships as a smart tool to realize an industrial development that will help us consolidate a sustainable welfare society.”