Renewables seduce farmers in Spain
Agro-food companies have better benefits when involved in renewable energies. The Spanish industry has been diversifying its acitvity for years and some large companies even get a significant share of their business by investing in wind energy.
This is the case of the Aragón-based Grupo Jorge, one of the largest meat companies in the country, with a presence in the pig sector for 80 years. Since the end of 1990, the company - besides exporting ham to China - has an energy division and in 2016, it became one of the successful bidders in the first electric auction to build wind farms.
Moreover, one of the company's founders created the renewable giant Forestalia, which last March sold to Repsol a wind project with a capacity of 860 MW to build 26 wind farms.
Involved in the entire value chain
From Aragón to Navarra, with the Grupo Enhol, which for 40 years has shared an interest in the energy and agro-food business. It currently has a division dedicated to the production and marketing of sprouted food and accumulates more than 700 MW of wind power in Spain, Bulgaria and Mexico.
The company recognizes that its renewable business is now the most important branch of the group and is not only dedicated to the development of wind farms, but is also committed to self-consumption, biomass and energy recovery from waste.
In the coming months it will invest 146 million euros to build five wind farms of 166 MW in Navarra and plans to add four more photovoltaic solar plants to its portfolio.
"In the case of Enhol, they entered the energy sector by investing in cogeneration, but as far as other companies are concerned, many did so to diversify their business," Yann Dummont of the consultancy firm Reolum explains.
"It is also very interesting to note that they are companies involved in the entire value chain," he adds.
Solar thermal energy
Another company from Aragón, which has also entered the renewable energy sector, is Grupo Samca, with interests in mining, chemicals and agri-food. It began to develop wind projects in 1995 and currently has parks in operation with a total power of 300 MW.
It is surprising that this company has invested in solar thermal energy. It has two of the few solar thermal power plants in the world, located in Badajoz (Extremadura).
Aceites del Sur or Acesur is a purely agricultural company, dedicated to the production and marketing of olive oils. Although 75% of its turnover comes from the sale of bottled oil, 10% corresponds to the sale of electricity and biomass for energy or heat production through its subsidiary Enersur.
Its investments in renewables are more focused on the production of biodiesel, biomass and cogeneration, using its agricultural resources to make the most of the waste.
"In a short time, implementing circular economy measures will be a legal imperative", according to Dummont, "companies will have the obligation to look for alternatives to waste or the reuse of products in order to be sustainable".
While the aforementioned companies have dedicated a good part of their financial efforts and strategies to developing renewable projects as another business, self-consumption initiatives are succeeding on farms and even in the fishing sector.
This is what the Fishermen's Association of Tarragona has done. It has just opened a self-consumption facility that will save almost 35,000 euros in energy costs per year.