In the heart of Spain’s Castellón, a quiet yet revolutionary transformation is taking place in the ceramic industry. This major sector, crucial not only for the region but also for the entire Valencian export landscape, is making substantial investments to decarbonize its operations. At the forefront of this green revolution is the adoption of green hydrogen, a key element in achieving sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.
This year, the Department of Innovation granted substantial aid for strategic industrial projects, and the tile industry in Castellón secured a lion’s share of these investments. In total, two companies, along with the Anffecc glaze frits association, are committing 7.86 million euros to three forward-looking initiatives.
The Spanish multinational engineering firm Técnicas Reunidas is leading the charge by dedicating at least 2.13 million euros to develop a groundbreaking pilot project. Their aim? To create new alkaline electrolyzers, primarily focused on producing green hydrogen. This pilot project, to be located within Castellón, is set to generate green energy directly in the heart of the ceramic cluster.
The project’s main focus lies in the tile manufacturing and ceramic frit industries. By utilizing renewable hydrogen as a fuel source, the tile factories and ceramic facilities in Castellón can drastically enhance their energy self-sufficiency. To bolster this eco-friendly transformation, the Valencian Government has pledged financial support amounting to 854,000 euros, disbursed over the next few years.
Meanwhile, the Greene group from Elche secured the most substantial subsidy, exceeding 3.55 million euros. Their vision is to harness green hydrogen from various biomass waste fractions, including agricultural, forestry, and pruning remnants. Additionally, the group will showcase the application of this green hydrogen in the ceramic sector. The Generalitat has pledged 1.24 million euros to assist in this endeavor.
The National Association of Manufacturers of Ceramic Frits, Glazes, and Colors (Anffecc) brings together several companies in the ceramic industry, an area where Spain is a global leader. Their project involves adapting ceramic ovens to green hydrogen, with an investment exceeding 2.18 million euros. This pilot initiative seeks to decarbonize the ceramic frits sector and includes experimental developments within production plants, introducing new ovens and burners designed to operate, at least in part, with green hydrogen.
In addition to these initiatives, the Department of Innovation is allocating the remaining subsidies to electric vehicle battery recycling projects. This aligns with the overarching goal of closing the loop in the lifecycle of electric vehicle batteries.
One such project is by Tera Batteries Recycling, an Alicante-based company. They intend to establish a pilot plant to disassemble and assess electric vehicle batteries at the end of their lifespan, facilitating their recycling and recovery.
The second project, led by Valencian firm Batteryfly Smart Energy, focuses on the creation of a new industrial business unit. It aims to recycle and reuse automotive and mobility batteries, granting them a second life in applications such as power generators or charging stations.
Together, these projects represent an investment of over 2.6 million euros, nearly 700,000 euros of which will be public subsidies.
The initiatives undertaken by Castellón’s ceramic sector, driven by a commitment to green hydrogen and sustainable practices, are laying the foundation for a more eco-conscious industry. These endeavors signify not only a financial investment but also a profound commitment to environmental responsibility.
While challenges undoubtedly lie ahead, such as scaling up production and infrastructure development, these projects mark an important step towards cleaner, more sustainable energy sources and industrial processes.
In Castellón, the tile industry isn’t merely producing ceramics; it’s shaping a greener, more sustainable future, proving that sustainable industry practices are not only possible but essential for a better world.