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Spain concentrates a quarter of Europe’s potential for agricultural pruning to produce thermal energy

UP_running, project of the European programme Horizon 2020, led by the Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption (Circe) of the University of Zaragoza, is coming to an end. During a series of conferences, those in charge of the project announced some conclusions, such as that of the twenty million tonnes of pruning remains of agricultural origin with the potential to produce thermal energy, five are in Spain. However, the same conclusions speak of multiple barriers that prevent the creation of profitable value chains that encourage the use of this potential.

24/06/2019

Energías-renovables.com

Among the papers presented at the day The application of circular bioeconomy for rural development through biomass, held on 12 June at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA), highlighted that of Daniel Garcia, coordinator of uP_running in the Circe. As advanced Renewable Energies, all were framed in the application of bioeconomics in rural environments.

√Āngel Samper, secretary general of the Asociaci√≥n Agraria de J√≥venes Agricultores (Asaja) of Huesca, also took part, as together with Circe and nine other partners from seven European countries form part of uP-running and promoted the MAPA event. Samper stated that “for the agrarian and rural environment, the use of wood from pruning remains of agricultural origin is an opportunity to create employment and fix population.

But the head of Asaja-Huesca also outlined the barriers that prevent a profitable and optimal use: “the machinery according to demand has not yet been put in place and sometimes it is the technicians of the Administration who transfer scepticism to farmers. “It is necessary to achieve a balance between the productive sector, the technological platforms and the Administration and that no measure associated with any bio-economy strategy is taken as an imposition,” he concluded.

“UP-running is not a project, it is a tool for change, for transformation”.

Daniel Garc√≠a began by partly highlighting these barriers, to which he added the “reluctance to change the management of agricultural pruning and renewal of plantations, their low economic value, the lack of encounter between energy and agriculture, measures around agroriduos and incentives in the market”.

But both the ways and measures that uP-running has developed to break down these barriers and the success stories that demonstrate it were also presented. “UP-running is not a project, it is a tool for change, for transformation,” Garc√≠a said. And he spoke of positive aspects that have been found: “disruptive vision of the entrepreneur, determination, perseverance, agreements for the transfer of waste and not merely economic benefits: society has to gain something”.

Only in this way will we be on the right track to take advantage of the potential of agricultural prunings that have been quantified in Spain for later use as thermal energy. Specifically, 120 million tonnes of agricultural dry matter are generated annually in the EU, mainly straw, corn straw and pruning. Of these, between 20 and 25 million correspond to pruning more than a quarter, around five million, is in Spain.

Five potential entrepreneurs in Aragon

Since it emerged in 2016 (concluded on 19 June), as heir to EuroPruning, uP-running’s objective has been “to harness the potential of woody agricultural waste for energy and to demonstrate the viability of new logistics chains and business models”.

“We have accompanied five potential entrepreneurs in Aragon, and twenty in total in the seven countries that are part of the project, creating two new value chains, one in Italy for the collection of pruning, pelletization and use in local boilers, and another in Ukraine, also pelletization and use in local schools,” summarizes Daniel Garcia.

The five entrepreneurs in Aragon are Calanda Town Council in Teruel; the San Juan Bautista de Fuentedejalón wine cooperative in Zaragoza; Casa Miquelas, a farm in Fraga, Huesca; Gruyser and Ecoadeso, waste managers also in Fraga; and Daller and Fruta Aqua, energy and fruit companies respectively in Caspe, Zaragoza.

Three success stories as an example

There have also been consultations, ten in Spain and 46 in total, 140 consultants have been trained in eight courses distributed among the seven countries and “an interesting tool has been created in eight languages from 460 reports available on the web: 392 productivity 392, 42 on performance (mainly machinery) and 46 on value chains,” added Garcia. He also talked about the success cases located, three of them in Spain: P√©let de La Mancha, Ence and the City Council of Vilafranca del Pened√®s.

Throughout his intervention, the uP-running coordinator left some key messages that have to do with the necessary collaboration between the agricultural and technological sector, with the use of the results to better focus measures and policies, with the growing interest in implementing measures to promote the bioeconomy through the use of agrobiomass and with the development of a secure framework that strengthens investments.

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