The Asturian community, along with La Rioja, were the regions with the greatest increase in energy generation in 2015. | The main source of energy was coal, according to the latest report from Red Eléctrica de España.
Asturias stands out in Spain for its energy value. Not only for the region’s natural resources, but also for its capacity to handle those resources, transforming them into energy. This has been shown in the latest annual report, created by the Red Eléctrica de España (REE), which takes stock of the state of energy in Spain during 2015. According to the data, the region of Asturias has become the largest generator in Spain of energy based on coal and waste, as well as an exporter of energy to other communities with negative energy balances.
Coal continues to be the main source of energy production in Asturias. In fact, it holds 23% of the total coal-based energy produced in Spain. In terms of figures, the region of Asturias produced a total of 12,480 GWh from coal during the last tax year. However, there is a growing energy source in Spain, which is being led by Asturias. It is energy from waste. The region is the largest producer in the country of energy from waste, and generates 19.8% of the total electricity with this source.
The Navia pulp mill: energy self-sufficiency
In Navia (Asturias), the Ence Group, a European leader in the production of cellulose from eucalyptus pulp has the factory with the largest production capacity of the company. In fact, the Navia-based plant is able to produce 500,000 tonnes of cellulose pulp each year, though last February the Group announced its short-term intention to increase this production by 40,000 tonnes.
During this process, a high volume of forest waste is generated, which the Ence Group uses to produce energy. In fact, the plant in Navia consumes the energy it generates. The company has two advanced pulp mills in the Asturian region, which are able to generate electrical energy from forestry biomass, resulting from the cellulose extraction process.
According to the information that appears on the Group’s website, in 2008 the Ence plant in Navia generated over 130 million kWh of renewable energy via its co-generation plants, and after the Asturian pulp mill expanded, it doubled its electrical generation capacity, reaching the 77 MW of installed potential via a steam backpressure turbine and another condensation turbine.
This power comprises 35% of its total installed potential between the company’s different facilities in Spain, which currently have 220 MW.
Energy from waste. Re-using waste to produce electricity
Another of the waste into energy conversion formulas is the capture and use of biogas. This is a combustible gas that is obtained by de-gassing solid wastes that are found in landfill. It is a gas composed of 45% methane, which implies that, aside from the risk of combustion (explosion, fire…) when in contact with the air, it is also highly polluting (it produces a greenhouse effect that is 25 times higher than CO2).
However, biogas has a high energy potential. The Solid Waste Management in Asturias Company (COGERSA) incorporates an integral gas management plan, its management and converting gas into energy. This plan is essential for the elimination and conduction of methane, thus avoiding contact with the environment.