A new study by Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants has researched the potential of using olive pits in biofuels, Olive Oil Times wrote on 9 December.

The findings of the Jaén-based consultants show that such fuel is “environmentally friendly, has a high calorific value (4,500 calories/gm) and is economical”, according to the report.

In an average season, around 6M tonnes of olives are produced in Spain, with approximately 15% of this total (900,000 tonnes) comprising pits.

Around 450,000 tonnes of olive pits are obtained each year by olive dressing industries and oil extractors, of which 323,500 tonnes are sold, mainly for use as biofuel within the agricultural sector, according to the report.

One of the study’s main conclusions was that if this resource was better-exploited, Andalusia’s agri-food sector could become self-sufficient in energy terms, with each season’s olive pit production providing enough electricity to meet the entire sector’s annual needs.

As a naturally-occurring by-product of an established industry, the environmental impact of olive pit production was low compared to fossil fuels or other biofuels which required dedicated cultivation and processing, the report said.

When correctly prepared, the pits contain low moisture concentrations and few impurities, leading to low emissions during combustion, according to the report.