Here at COVAP we just released some exciting information on our Circular Economic Model. It’s a completely unique model here in Europe that utilizes photovoltaic (solar), biogas, and biomass energy to achieve energy self-sufficiency.
The goal of this project is to establish a 360º management system that utilizes solar energy, waste and by-products from our members’ livestock and manufacturing processes, and organic plant matter from nearby forests to generate enough electricity and steam to power five industrial plants.
COVAP established an alliance with three leading companies in the sector to implement this circular economic strategy: Magtel, Genia Bioenergy, and Veolia. Magtel will take charge of developing the solar energy park, and has already started construction. Genia Bioenergy is designing and implementing the biogas generation process. And Veolia will build and operate the biomass plant. When all is said and done, the COVAP cooperative will be able to replace 80% of fossil fuels with renewable energy. Powerful solar panels will produce 11,000 Mw/year, the biogas plant will provide 40,000 Mw/year, and the biomass plant will generate 80,000 Mw/year.
There are so many advantages to this new model, which focuses on utilizing our own resources here at CVOAP. We will reduce dependence on exterior energy. We will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. We will reutilize 60,000 m3 of water. And we will produce 25,000 tonnes of organic fertilizer that our farmers can use to grow specific plants used for animal feed. The project also generates specialized employment opportunities and provides quality jobs for folks in the area.
Antonio Carmona, the general director of COVAP, noted, “The project addresses the need to spark transformation in our production methods. In addition to offering quality, sustainable, and nutritious food, these processes must be in balance with our environment and the planet so we can continue to guarantee a sustainable future for new generations, something the cooperative has been working towards since it was founded in 1959.”
Our partners are just as excited and passionate about the collaboration:
Martín Salgado, the general director of Magtel also commented, saying, “Currently a good portion of the projects we’re carrying out on in Andalusia— and this is a good example— provide advanced technological solutions in energetic and environmental sustainability for the industry, which allows us to apply the same constant innovation that characterizes our business actions.”
The CEO of Genia Bioenergy, Gabriel Butler, explained, “The cycle of the circular economy that COVAP will establish with their biogas and biomethane plants— which recovers thousands of tonnes of waste in order to generate renewable sources and organic improvements that then nourish the farms in a natural way— should be a standard of agricultural activity in Spain.”
The general director of Veolia Servicios Lecam, Franciscio Villalobos, expressed that “Veolia is, as of today, a key ally to accompany COVAP in their decarbonization challenge. We at Veolia have designed a biomass plant with the capacity to cover 100% of the steam demand at COVAP’s facilities. In addition to taking care of the operation and maintenance of these facilities, we will supply the necessary biomass for the boiler operations. As such, we will be providing clean fuel and reducing CO2 emissions.”
These investments are designed to drastically reduce emissions in all areas of production, from the packing plants to the creamery. And reducing fossil fuels is more important now than ever before. Gas and electricity costs are incredibly high and the planet continues to suffer the harmful effects of mass industrial processing. Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy just makes sense for a cooperative like COVAP, both from an economical and ecological perspective.
As Frank Mitloehenr of the University of California Davis and director of Clear Center (a global reference for air quality research) said about our plan, “That’s remarkable. And that’s the future. I really recommend that other organizations look into something like that as well.”