Spain: 2 December 2023 

Energetic Valorization of Straw at AGROPAL

AGROPAL, a Spanish cooperative, now uses member-produced straw pellets for renewable energy in its cheese factory, reducing costs. Formerly relying on liquefied natural gas, the cooperative plans to expand this approach. Spain’s agricultural residues could replace 7 million tons of petroleum. 

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The cheese factory Cerrato, part of the AGROPAL Cooperative Group, has had a 4-ton/hour steam boiler at 9 bar pressure since 2016. Manufactured by Sugimat, it is powered by straw pellets produced by the cooperative itself in a plant located at its forage dehydrator.

Most of the straw generated by the approximately 8000 cooperative members is used for animal feed. However, the surplus, which used to incur collection and management costs, is now valorized as renewable biofuel, contributing to a circular economy.

Until 2016, the factory had a thermal energy generation system using liquefied natural gas (LNG). Savings compared to natural gas can range between 20 and 70%, depending on gas and straw prices. The factory is situated in a cereal-producing area, and since the cooperative members themselves supply the straw, the supply has always been guaranteed.

The cooperative has plans to implement new boilers for other thermal processes such as forage dehydration and cereal grain drying.

Agricultural activity in Spain generates 17 million tons of dry matter from herbaceous and woody residues, which could replace 7 million tons of petroleum.

Interview with Alejandro Velasco, responsible for projects and investments at AGROPAL.

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