SABIC's polycarbonate facility in Cartagena, Spain, is set to become the world's first large-scale chemical production site to be run entirely on renewable power, following the signing of a major agreement.
The deal will see Iberdrola, one of the world's biggest electricity utility companies, invest almost €70m to construct a 100MW solar PV facility with 263,000 panels, on land owned by SABIC, making it the largest industrial renewable power plant in Europe. The plant is expected to be fully operational in 2024.
The 25-year deal represents another milestone in SABIC's journey to transition all its global operations to cleaner energy. SABIC's ambition is to have 4GW of either wind or solar energy installed for its sites globally by 2025, rising to 12GW by 2030. In 2019, solar panels were installed at SABIC sites in India and Thailand, helping reduce greenhouse emissions by 200 tons, and SABIC's Home of Innovation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has been completely solar-powered since 2015.
Bob Maughon, EVP Sustainability, Technology & Innovation and CTO and CSO at SABIC, said: "This ground-breaking deal with Iberdrola is a significant step towards achieving our long-term sustainability and clean energy targets. Partnerships of this kind are the cornerstone of our business growth model. The solar PV powered plant in Cartagena demonstrates that SABIC continues to drive the sustainability agenda in the chemicals industry and that a transition on such a large scale is possible.
"In recent years, the many breakthroughs in renewable energy technology have made deployment at this kind of scale possible. Our commitment to technology and innovation means we will always be early adopters, and we are optimally positioned to undertake this transformation right now. The new PV plant will deliver an 80kt annual reduction in indirect CO2 emissions, and furthers strengthens our support and contribution to wider climate change initiatives like EU 2030 and our alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals."
Once the solar plant comes on line, SABIC's customers, including those in the automotive and construction sectors, will have access to polycarbonate solutions produced with 100% renewable power, further responding to customer and consumer demands for more sustainable solutions in an increasingly carbon-neutral world.
"These partnerships enhance the competitiveness of renewables and continue to create opportunities for the development of innovative projects that are transforming the present and the future of energy. The long-term energy purchase contracts provide stability to investments and have become an optimal tool for managing the electricity supply of major consumers, committed to clean and sustainable energy sources", explained Eduardo Insunza, Corporate Customer Global Director of Iberdrola.
Plans are also underway to install PV technology at SABIC's global HQ in Riyadh, and a final-stage feasibility study with Marafiq and the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu is underway to explore a $300m, 300-megawatt solar array project on the western coast of Saudi Arabia. Once complete, SABIC will take the electricity generated by the plant and deliver it to local chemicals manufacturing plants.
SABIC has already worked to address changing customer and consumer demands through its TRUCIRCLE portfolio and services. The TRUCIRCLE initiative encompasses the company's circular materials and technologies including certified circular polymers from chemical recycling of used plastic, certified bio-based renewable polymers and more. The initiative is seen as key in helping SABIC drive a world-class circular business and having renewable energy at the source of production will help further enable the TRUCIRCLE initiative vision.