Manuel Acuña is one of RE4Industry’s experts giving his contribution to facilitating the energy-intensive industry (EII) sector in Europe a smooth and more secure transition to the adoption of Renewable Energies (RE). Integrating the Spanish team, Manuel is an Electrical Engineer at Verallia – a leading multinational company in the hollow glass (container) sector in Europe – and holds a master’s degree in Energy Eco-efficiency and Energy Markets from CIRCE. RE4Industry interviewed him on the steps Veralia is taking to achieve its decarbonisation goals. 

What actions is Verallia currently developing or planning to achieve its decarbonisation goals? 

At Verallia, we are currently working on a series of initiatives. Firstly, Verallia takes advantage of acquiring renewable electric energy through purchase agreements until 2026. Verallia’s ambition is to provide its plants with up to 45 MWp of photovoltaic energy (Self-consumption) to its 7 factories in Spain and Portugal. The company has invested in residual heat recovery to heat the raw material that is used for glass bottles, a solution that allows the furnace to save 15% in energy, with respect to the use of natural gas. Moreover, Verallia explores synergies among neighbour companies, namely a beer-making company that buys part of the residual steam that Verallia produces, to reduce its emissions. Lastly, regarding the use of materials, Verallia has a double commitment: High-rate use of recycled glass materials as feedstock and the use of novel materials substituting NaCO3 by NaOH. 

What are the limitations for electrification, use of green hydrogen and/or use of biofuels in your processes?

At Verallia, the fossil fuel substitution and electrification of processes are also included in the company’s decarbonisation roadmap. Currently, we use biofuels (15-20%) in one of our furnaces and we are studying proposals to burn syngas. Regarding the challenges in the electrification of processes, Verallia will have a disruptive change in the industry by constructing the first hybrid furnace to produce up to 350 tons of glass per day. In the market, currently, there are no electric furnaces with such production capacity. This is a milestone for Verallia. Not only from a technological point of view but also from the economics. Such technological improvement requires at least duplicating the investment when compared to conventional ovens. To be able to do this, Verallia shares the responsibility of the project with the technology providers.