26. 6. 2017

Serra, Biomass, Energy and Employment

Serra is a small mountain town of 3,000 inhabitants in the Region of Valencia on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. The municipality covers an area of 5,730 hectares, with 95% of this territory lying within the Sierra Calderona Natural Park and 85% being forest. Serra’s biomass management project began eight years ago as an environmental bet, turning green waste coming form gardening, into a solid fuel used in a 35 kw biomass boiler to heat the municipal nursery.

Photo 1: Juanjo Mayans introducing the project

Photo 1: Juanjo Mayans introducing the project

Nowadays the municipality of Serra is able to produce 800 tonnes of high quality wood pellet which raw material comes from sustainable forestry works, agriculture and gardening waste. In this first year of industrial production we hope to reach 300 tonnes of pellet. Part of this pellet is used to heat municipal buildings, with total biomass boiler power of 250 kw, the rest is sold at market price, and a bit cheaper to Serra’s neighbours. The results show the success of the project.

  • Average savings per year in green waste management: 25.000 €.
  • Average savings per year in electrical power: 22.000 €.
  • Total pellet production capacity first year: 300 tonnes.
  • Total overall pellet production capacity: 800-1.000 tonnes.
  • Total CO2 emission reduction per year: 350 tonnes.
  • Hectares protected by fire prevention forestry works: 130 ha.
  • Employment created in wood pellet production plant and biomass extraction: 5 people.

We can proudly say yet that our bioenergy project not only allows economic savings for the municipality, but also has positive collateral effects in terms of protecting the natural environment, reducing pollution and creating employment in a region hit by unemployment and rural abandonment.

Our project has been recognised at national and international level, and has been used by the EU Commission as an example of bio-economy. Now we are working to close a circle economy cycle based on the re-use of such green waste as energy that permits the generation of savings which are redirected towards job creation, this allows the incorporation of new forestry and agricultural waste, which helps to protect against forest fires and to conserve the area’s natural heritage. This, in turn, allows more tourism activities in the area, which drives yet more employment generation and ultimately socio-economic growth.

Author: Juanjo Mayans, Serra municipality

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