EnergyLOOP to install its innovative blade recycling plant in Spain with the support of PERSEO

  • The company, driven by Iberdrola and FCC, will begin construction of the facility in autumn 2023, which is scheduled to come on stream in 2024.
  • EnergyLOOP will place Spain at the technological forefront of the circular economy and will contribute to the development of an innovative value chain with an investment of around €10 million and the creation of around 100 jobs.
  • The plant has the support of the Government of Navarre and Sodena and its location in the municipality of La Ribera is a strategic location due to its connection with several areas of high wind resource.

EnergyLOOP, a company promoted by Iberdrola, through its PERSEO programme, and FCC Ámbito, a subsidiary of FCC Servicios Medio Ambiente, will build its innovative wind turbine blade recycling plant in Spain in the municipality of Cortes, Navarre.

La Ribera Navarra will thus be the place chosen to lead the recycling of wind farm components, one of the biggest challenges in the medium and long term for the sector. This initiative will also contribute to the energy transition and boost the circular economy in Spain.

This is a pioneering facility in the recycling of wind turbine blades, mainly made up of composites (glass and carbon fibres and resins), for the recovery of these materials as secondary raw materials in different sectors such as the energy, aerospace, automotive, textile, chemical and construction industries.

The plant's location is strategic due to its proximity to some of the country's leading wind farms and its good communication with other regions with abundant wind energy facilities, and to the support of the Government of Navarre and the public company Sodena, which have demonstrated their interest in this strategic activity that positions the region as a benchmark in the renewable energy sector.

Construction is scheduled to start in autumn 2023 and the plant is expected to be operational in the course of 2024.

The plant will be the first industrial-scale plant in Europe and will place Spain at the technological forefront of this industry. It will also contribute to the creation of an innovative and dynamic value chain. To this end, EnergyLOOP expects to create around 100 direct and indirect jobs over the decade and plans to invest around €10 million in the facility.

For the development of its industrial commitment, EnergyLOOP has appointed Luis Sanz Jiménez, who has extensive experience in the recycling industry, as Managing Director of the company. In addition, in his long professional career, Luis Sanz Jiménez has led ambitious and innovative industrial projects for the recovery of materials and their incorporation into the market.

The project has the support of the Government of Navarre, as it is a strategic activity that positions the region at the forefront of the renewable energy sector by introducing technological innovation and circularity components and is aligned with regional smart specialisation. In its commitment to the promotion and competitiveness of renewable energies, the Government of Navarre, through Sodena, has worked discreetly on the location of the first plant of this activity in the region, in an industrial estate owned by the also public company Nasuvinsa.

The Government of Navarre's S4 smart specialisation strategy incorporates the circular economy by focusing efforts and bringing together public and private actors under the umbrella of Navarra Zirkular, with the aim of facilitating the ecological transition in companies located in the region.

The Spanish wind industry - as a world leader with more than 28 GW of installed capacity - will face the need to recycle or reuse significant quantities of wind turbines before other countries. It is estimated that in Europe in 2030, around 5,700 wind turbines will be dismantled per year, coming from the repowering of wind farms or from facilities reaching the end of their useful life.

In this context, EnergyLOOP will contribute to the transformation of the wind energy sector into a true circular economy by investing in integrated blade recycling solutions. This initiative will also improve its competitiveness and sustainability through the research and implementation of new recycling technologies, which will make it possible to absorb the increasing amounts of waste and adopt increasingly efficient solutions.

The project will act in the different stages that enable the circularity of wind turbine blades, including on-site pre-treatment and conditioning, waste transport logistics, recycling technologies and the marketing of recycled products.

Collaboration agreements with leading companies in their sectors

The initiative undertaken by Iberdrola and FCC Ámbito has the support of Siemens Gamesa, which, as a global leader in the manufacture and maintenance of wind farms, will play a key role in this project, both because of its knowledge and experience in blade recycling and because of its penetration in Spain, with 53% of all the wind farms installed in the country.

In the same vein, the company GDES Wind, with extensive experience in the maintenance of wind turbine blades, collaborates with EnergyLOOP by providing its technical support and know-how, as part of its commitment to the circular economy.

EnergyLOOP's activity reinforces the circular economy strategies of FCC Ámbito and Iberdrola, which see this production and consumption model as a key lever for the energy transition. They will therefore seek to develop equally cutting-edge recycling solutions for other components of renewable facilities, such as photovoltaic solar panels or batteries, as the needs of these markets so require.

With this approach, the new company will seek to establish the necessary alliances for the effective valorisation of waste, extending the positive impact of the initiative to other actors along the entire value chain. It will also contribute to the research and development necessary for the effective circularity of these materials.

Aligned with FCC Environment's Sustainability Strategy 2050

FCC Ámbito contributes its extensive experience in the recycling and marketing of secondary raw materials to the definition of operational processes in the development of EnergyLOOP projects. The incorporation of new technologies in this type of project will allow FCC Ámbito to consolidate and position itself as a key player in the country's circular economy processes, a fundamental pillar of FCC Environment's 2050 Sustainability Strategy.

This Sustainability Strategy consists of a 30-year business development roadmap that integrates very demanding objectives and commitments of high added value for the company and society as a whole, and which are grouped into four areas of action: environmental, social, excellence and good governance.

The circular economy, at the core of the Iberdrola Group's sustainable business model

EnergyLOOP responds to Iberdrola's commitment to a sustainable energy model and is part of its PERSEO Venture Builder programme to promote the development of innovative industrial companies working in new areas of electrification and in sectors that are difficult to decarbonise.

Iberdrola defines its circular economy strategy as a process that affects its entire value chain, both its own production processes and those of its suppliers and customers. The group prioritises the contracting of companies with environmental management systems and, together with its suppliers, promotes eco-design, the analysis of the life cycle of products, and the use of materials with a low environmental impact.

The company also promotes the circular economy by reducing the use of natural resources through its commitment to decarbonisation and electrification, and the more sustainable use of natural resources by promoting the use of more efficient and cleaner technologies and processes. It also fosters research to develop solutions for the use of waste and promotes responsible consumption through environmental awareness programmes.

In 2017, Iberdrola joined the Pact for a Circular Economy: The commitment of economic and social agents 2018-2020, which the Spanish Government signed with the European Commission within the framework of the European Strategy for Growth 2020 and the so-called Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe.

The Pact, which was signed by public and private entities, seeks to involve the main economic and social agents in Spain in the transition towards a new economic model.

PERSEO Iberdrola Ventures, 15 years innovating with start-ups and new business models

Since its creation in 2008, PERSEO has invested €100 million in start-ups that develop innovative technologies and business models, focusing on those that improve the sustainability of the energy sector through further electrification and decarbonisation of the economy.

The programme has focused its activities on analysing business opportunities and technological collaboration with start-ups and emerging companies around the world, analysing 300 companies each year and creating an ecosystem of almost 7,500 entrepreneurial companies. This investment instrument currently holds a portfolio of eight companies.

Through PERSEO, the Venture Builder programme was launched in 2020 with €40 million for the creation of new business models aimed at supporting electrification in sectors that are difficult to decarbonise and the development of circular economy solutions, among others.

FCC Ámbito, a leading company in circular economy services

FCC Ámbito is the subsidiary of FCC Servicios Medio Ambiente specialising in the integrated management of industrial and commercial waste, recovery of by-products and soil decontamination. As a whole, it has a total of 39 treatment centres in Spain and Portugal, with more than 67 processing lines that guarantee the functionality of the facilities.

FCC Servicios Medio Ambiente is the FCC Group company that has been providing municipal services and integrated waste management for 120 years, serving more than 60 million people in 5,200 municipalities around the world. In 2021, the company managed 24 million tonnes of waste and produced nearly four million tonnes of secondary raw materials and fuel derived from waste.

The company has more than 770 operational waste management facilities, of which nearly 200 are environmental complexes dedicated to waste treatment and recycling, including 11 waste-to-energy projects with a capacity of 3.2 million tonnes per year and 360 MW of non-fossil electricity.