Adaptation of renewable energy solutions for the olive oil industry
Research for SME Associations (FP7, European Commission)
01.03.2009 – 27.02.2012
Barbara De Mena Pardo
Olive tree and olive processing industry produce large amounts of by-products. Besides, the olive oil industry is defined by the polluting character of its residues, of which about 5.8 million tons are produced annually. This poses serious problems to the olive mills, especially in the case of small and medium ones. Moreover, after different scandals regarding olive pomace oil in the recent years, mills have lately had to pay for the removal of the pomace instead of selling it to pomace oil extractors, which entails higher production costs.
Furthermore, olive tree cultivation yields as a by-product wood from pruning the trees, which currently is neglected and dealt with as a waste. This increases the costs for waste treatment of each olive mill, resulting in a heavier economic an environmental burden. Lately, a new struggle has appeared: production costs increase due to the current situation of increasing prices of electricity, absolutely necessary for production. Actors from all the groups involved agree on the need for a more sustainable approach to production schemes, where environmental conditions are taken into consideration without neglecting productivity.
In this sense, in the last years there has been research focused in exploring the possibilities of further use of the residues, olive mill waste water and olive pomace, and initiatives to provide solutions to the industry. Even though considerable efforts have been made so far for bringing the results obtained into practice, most local producers associations still lack a clear guidance adapted to their needs in specific fields. As a result, they give up the implementation of these activities after the institutional framework which supported them disappears.
- To define the specific conditions for the implementation of renewable energy solutions specific to the olive oil industry.
- To enable the producers and their associations more independence from centralized energy systems.
- To increase the competitiveness of the European olive industry through the accession to state-of-the-art technologies.