Endesa is making progress in the dismantling of the Andorra thermal power plant with the demolition of a 343-metre-high chimney

Dismantling of the thermal power plant in Andorra.
Dismantling of the thermal power plant in Andorra.
  • 265 Kg of explosive were used to demolish the three towers, one of the most complex tasks in the process of dismantling the installation
  • About 25,000 tons of inert waste were generated that can therefore be recovered as filling material, whilst the waste iron from the reinforced concrete reinforcement will be revalued for later use.
  • 65% of the dismantling process for the Andorra thermal power plant has been completed. While this work is being done, Endesa is developing a future plan that aims to revive the industrial fabric with an investment of €1,500 million and the construction of 1,843 MW of renewable power, which will generate more than 6,300 jobs in the construction stage and 370 direct jobs linked to the renewable project.

Today, Endesa completed the simultaneous demolition of three cooling towers at the Andorra thermal power plant, which represents one step further in the process of closing down the company's coal-fired plants, which is expected to be completed on the Spanish mainland by 2027.

The demolition of the chimney at the plant, together with that of the three cooling towers completed last May, represents a milestone, not only for the symbolic nature of the structure but also from a technical point of view. The completion of this work involved the design of an exhaustive procedure with a view to guaranteeing absolute safety and effective conditions for the demolition. These preventive measures are being applied in all the processes involved in the dismantling and demolition work at the plant.

The process of demolishing the three cooling towers was particularly complex, as it was supported by a specific project as part of which the conditions of the preparatory works were subject to a structural analysis, as well as the dynamics of the demolition process, the sequence of activities, directions in which material would fall, measures to mitigate impacts, measurement of vibrations and the safety of all affected elements and structures.

The demolition required the use of 170 non-electric detonators, 108 surface connectors, 8 non-electronic detonators and 265 kg of explosive which was placed in the structure by means of distributed drills to direct the fall in the planned direction. A safety radius of 600 metres was established for the project.

The demolition was performed using small confined explosive charges in holes with a small length in order to achieve a destabilising wedge. The use of explosives is the safest procedure for demolishing slender and special structures, whenever the surrounding area allows this. To enable the process of falling, work involving diamond-cutting at the base of the chimney was undertaken in the weeks prior to demolition.

The demolition generated approximately 25,000 tons of waste (mostly concrete), which will be managed in accordance with environmental regulations. This inert waste can be recovered on site by using it as filling material, whilst the waste iron from the reinforced concrete reinforcement will be revalued for later use.

To minimise the impact of the dust resulting from the explosion, 4 220-cubic metre capacity pools were installed in the direction of fall that contained rainwater, as well as water from the plant's own processes.

The plant's chimney was 343 m high, with a diameter of 23.5 m at the base and 9.5 m at the crown. It was built out of concrete between 1978 and 1979 and weighed approximately 25,000 tons.

Dismantling work

The Teruel thermal power plant (Andorra) was built between 1974 and 1979 and was in operation for more than four decades, forging a deep-rooted bond with the area. Once Endesa ordered the closure of the plant in 2019, the decommissioning process began by drawing up a plan for the future of the surrounding area that includes the implementation of new industry and the development of 1,843 MW of new power, in this case renewable.

The dismantling of the Teruel thermal power plant is an operation entailing great technical complexity and the mobilisation of a huge amount of resources: the employment of about 250 people from the local area to take care of the work until it is completed in 2025. Alongside this Endesa has organised training courses in Workplace Risk Prevention for dismantling and operating industrial installations, attended by 170 local people who benefitted from the promotion of contracting local labour as specialised personnel, an action that enabled more than 2,000 people to be trained throughout Spain for different qualifications relating to our activity.

The human team doing the work consists mostly of former contractors and people from in the Andorra-Sierra de Arcos region and surrounding areas, since Endesa's commitment to sustainability includes giving priority in the tender for the award of the job to bids that included the largest number of local workers.

Exhaustive planning and coordination of all health and safety and environmental aspects are considered a priority. In this regard, the management of the demolition project is in the hands of a highly qualified team which is exactly what is required for a complex task like this one in Andorra. The work follows a meticulous plan, with the aim of avoiding occupational incidents despite the high number of personnel involved.

From an environmental perspective, a selective demolition system is being employed to separate and classify each of the 260,000 tons of material resulting from the demolition. An exhaustive environmental monitoring plan was implemented, with special attention paid to emissions and discharges during the execution of the works, in order to reduce the effects on the environment as much as possible.

As part of Endesa's commitment to the circular economy, concrete waste is expected to be reused, so Endesa installed high-capacity equipment in Teruel to fully recover this recycled aggregate, which will be used to fill the holes generated by the works, as well as in the morphological remodelling of the landscape after the demolitions. The objective is to revalue 90% of the waste generated by these works.

demolition Andorra 2
 

Andorra Thermal Power Plant

The "Teruel" thermal power plant, located in Andorra, consisted of three units, with a total capacity of 1,100 MW. Each unit had a boiler, turboalternator and cooling tower. The site also included the coal and limestone deposit, an ash and slag evacuation system, a desulphurisation plant and a 343-m high chimney for the evacuation of combustion gases.

It was built with the aim of making extensive use of black lignite from mines located in the Teruel mining basin, mixed with imported coals. The lignite was transported directly to the plant's coal deposit and the imported coal was transported by ship to the port of Tarragona and from there by rail to the plant. Natural gas was used as an auxiliary fuel for start-ups and combustion support.

It was active for four decades and produced 224,000 GWh, equivalent to mainland electricity consumption for a year. This required 142 million tons of coal, of which 110.9 million tons were domestic coal and 31.7 million tons were imported.

As a result, to ensure the compatibility of the economic development of the plant and use of this lignite with the conservation of the environment during the plant's useful life, a series of actions were taken that involved investments of more than €400 million. As a result of these investments, the plant managed to stabilise emissions into the atmosphere at levels below 1 ton per megawatt hour produced.

Renewable development

The thermal power plant in Teruel (Andorra) was in operation for more than four decades and forged a deep-rooted bond with the area. Once Endesa ordered the closure of the plant in 2019, the dismantling process began with a plan for the future of the region that includes the implementation of new industry and the development of new power, in this case, renewable.

Andorra will go from producing energy using coal, to generating clean energy with an installed capacity of 1,843.6 MW as a result of 7 hybridised renewable projects, 2 storage projects with batteries, a green hydrogen project and a synchronous compensator.

This renewable development is accompanied by a social-economic plan for the area that aims to generate employment and value in the area surrounding what was once one of the largest thermal power plants in Spain.

The renewable development projected by Endesa for Andorra does not only involve the construction of new wind and solar capacity, but also the hybridisation of these projects and storage with two battery plants, which makes them unique since they will make it possible to get the most out of these technologies, with higher quality and energy security and a balanced service by producing as many hours as possible. The new renewable plants will be located in Albalate del Arzobispo, Híjar, Samper de Calanda, Castelnou, Andorra, Calanda, Alcañiz, La Puebla de Híjar, Jatiel, and Alcorisa.

In addition to these projects there will also be a 15 MW electrolyser that will enable the management of surplus renewable energy for the production of green hydrogen that will help decarbonise industries in the surrounding area, the construction of an electrolyser factory, and a synchronous compensator that will enable this renewable energy to be discharged more frequently which will improve the performance of the electricity transport grid.

Through its renewable subsidiary Enel Green Power España, Endesa will invest more than €1,500 million in the construction of these installations, and together with the social-economic plan, will generate a total of more than 6,300 jobs, of which more than 370 will be directly linked to the renewable project. To these will be added other stable long-term jobs once the entire social-economic development plan has been deployed. All this makes a total of 500 permanent, long-term jobs that will be generated by 2028 under this plan developed by Endesa and its 30 partners, which far exceeds the direct and indirect jobs generated by the thermal power plant.

These renewable initiatives will have one more hybridisation, this time with the primary sector, since all installations will be open to this type of activity. Endesa has already signed preliminary agreements with sheep farming companies based in the area, with companies involved in animal fur/skin activity and with agricultural-sheep breeding companies.

There will also be agrovoltaic activity in the plants of Calanda, Santa María (in the municipality of Samper de Calanda) and San Macario (in the municipality of Andorra), which will enjoy the collaboration of Cierpe for the cultivation of cereals, and Natur Nature for aromatics. These crops will incorporate innovation and technology components for the sector with the collaboration of companies such as Biorizon Biotech and John Deere, with which pre-agreements have been signed.

John Deere, a world leader in the agricultural machinery sector, with an important presence in the area, will provide the sensorisation of agrovoltaic crops, by means of sensors and mechanisms for monitoring different crop parameters (soil humidity, temperature, cereal development, etc.). Biorizon Biotech, a Spanish company focussing on the field of biotechnology, which will contribute its experience in the use of microalgae as fertilisers in intensive and organic agriculture, developing unique techniques and processes aimed at enhancing the growth and protection of plants and fruits.

And solar apiaries with local beekeepers for the production of solar honey from the 200 hives that will be installed in renewable plants with the same shared value approach as that practised by the Las Corchas y los Naranjos plant (in Carmona), a model for success acknowledged within the sector. In the photovoltaic installations where the solar apiaries are located, beekeeping courses will be given, as well as beekeeping activities that will promote local trade. With this in mind, collaboration agreements have already been reached with local beekeepers.

demolition Andorra
 

Social-economic support plan - Secondary sector

Industrial development is also one of the key factors in Endesa's project. Companies such as Soltec, Pretersa, Capillar IT SL and H2B2, and institutions such as the Hydrogen Foundation in Aragón are collaborating with the company's commitment to the future of Andorra.

In this regard, agreements have already been reached with Soltec for the construction of a solar tracker factory in the area around the thermal power plant. This factory will generate 40 permanent jobs once it is operational.

The same was said by Pretersa, with which Endesa has also reached an agreement for the expansion of the precast concrete industry located in La Puebla de Híjar, which will generate another 80 jobs in the area, at least 30% of which will be for women.

Another of the industrial initiatives developed for Andorra is the construction of a second-life centre for wind turbines that will generate 32 permanent jobs, and a circular economy centre for recycling and the search for new uses for elements and equipment from renewable power stations when they reach the end of their useful life, and this will generate another 15 jobs.

Innovation is also present with the Andorra Smart Rural digital platform project that will be developed by Capillar IT SL from Zaragoza. It will generate 24 jobs in the area to develop a project to optimise the logistics chain for companies in the agri-food sector in Andorra and the surrounding area to connect production centres with urban consumption centres by means of transport solutions that do not emit CO2. This will involve the creation of a digital tool based on collaborative logistics that integrates agricultural producers' supply, connecting them with the existing demand in the large wholesale consumption points.

This is another step towards the digitalisation of the area surrounding Andorra together with the development of 10 energy communities. These are Andorra, Híjar, Albalate del Arzobispo, Puebla de Híjar, Jatiel, Castelnou, Ejulve, Molinos, Alacón and Alcorisa. In these towns, self-consumption plants will be installed on 40 public sites with a total power of 3,000 kWp that will provide electricity for 3,800 beneficiaries and promote autonomy and energy efficiency in these localities.

As part of this accompaniment plan, an agreement of intent was also reached with the H2B2 for the installation of an electrolyser manufacturing centre in the area around of Andorra. This manufacturing centre will generate 15 permanent jobs once it is operational.

The Hydrogen Foundation in Aragón will play an important role in the 15 MW green hydrogen project proposed in Andorra because it will not only participate in the design of the electrolyser, it will also organise training in green hydrogen technologies to the employees who participate in the construction and operation of the project.

Social-economic support plan - Tertiary sector

In the area around Andorra there will not only be industrial and rural activity, there is also a future project featuring the promotion of local commerce and tourism. Endesa was also looking to promote the tertiary sector as it is a key factor with regard to economic activity and employment in the area.

In this regard, one of the most significant agreements was the extension to the Spa in Ariño, which will enable the creation of at least 27 permanent jobs in the area, whilst serving as a tourist attraction for the region. A rural promotion project was also developed, with a leading role played by entities such as Apicultura La Cerrada and its Museum of Beekeeping in Andorra, with the involvement of the Hotel Santa Bárbara and the Arkha rural accommodation, consisting of the promotion of sustainable tourism initiatives.

Endesa is also committed to building a Birdlife Research and Information Centre that will promote high-level research and its main objective will be knowledge about and study of the species to be found in this area.

To this we should add the implementation of the "Milla verde de la transición energética" (Green Mile for Energy Transition), a signposted hiking route around the perimeter of the plant that will connect the renewable installations and the primary sector initiatives in the social-economic plan. It will employ local guides and it will include tastings of local products.

In nearby Puebla de Híjar there is also the Val de Zafan Route, a benchmark tourist route in the area as a result of conditioning the Val de Zafán railway line as a Greenway by installing a photovoltaic kit on the Torica Bridge to provide efficient lighting right through the La Mina Tunnel.

And as inclusivity is a condition for all these initiatives, Andorra will become the third inclusive "pictopueblo" (town with pictograms) in Spain as a result of the installation of a series of pictograms in the urban centre of Andorra. This will be undertaken in coordination with the Town Council, as a municipality sensitive to disability, providing visibility and attraction for a type of tourism known as "inclusive tourism" which is very much on the rise.

Training plan

Endesa is supporting this plan with a programme of more than 300,000 hours of training related to the activity that will be generated by the renewable plants. It is planned to benefit more than 5,000 people with preference given to the most vulnerable groups in rural environments such as young people, women and the unemployed.

The training plan consists of a first block in renewable energies, which will consist of a number of courses, for solar panel assemblers, the operation and maintenance of renewable facilities and the installation of solar power for self-consumption. And a second block of training in activities for the primary sector, which will be organised in collaboration with benchmark entities in the area such as AFAMMER (Association of Families and Women in the Rural Environment), ASAJA (Association of Young Agricultural Workers), CFP San Blas and the Juan XXIII Foundation and ATADI for people with disabilities. More than 30 training modules have been defined, ranging from organic farming, aromatics, e-commerce, digital cards, beekeeping, etc. Finally, training will also be organised with regard to inclusion, with a training programme designed together with the Juan XXIII Foundation for people with disabilities and based on clearing and composting.

Under the name of Rural School for Sustainable Energy and in collaboration with all these entities, a number of editions will be launched and scheduled for the 2023-2025 period.

About Endesa

Endesa is the largest electricity company in Spain and the second largest in Portugal. The company is also the second largest gas operator in the Spanish market. Endesa operates an end-to-end generation, distribution and marketing business. Through Endesa X it also offers value-added services aimed at the electrification of energy use in homes, companies, industries and Public Administrations. Endesa is firmly committed to the United Nations SDGs and strongly supports the development of renewable energies through Enel Green Power España, the digitalisation of grids through e-distribución, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The Endesa Foundation is also active in CSR-related matters. Our workforce numbers around 9,260 employees. Endesa is a division of Enel, the largest electricity group in Europe.

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