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Biofor: giving trees a new life

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Historically, Soria has been one of Spain’s the least populated areas, with a relatively low economic productivity. However, many young entrepreneurs are turning things around, finding new innovative business opportunities that can benefit Soria’s economy and its people. Biofor is one such example.

The company specialises in forest chips, chips of recycled wood. Biofor mixes wood that does not meet the conditions for the sawmill industry with wood from tree trimming, thus obtaining forest biofuel for industrial boilers. At the same time, recycled forest chips from pallets and packaging is given a second life to produce chipboard or for use in high-powered thermal systems.

“The price of gasoil increased and businesses are always looking for alternatives. In this context, we saw an opportunity to tackle two problems at once: Provide cheap and less contaminating energy and give another life to the tree trunks that lack commercial value,” says Roberto Sanz Martínez, co-founder of Biocombustibles Forestales, known as Biofor. “There are literally tons of unused wood waste lying around. Why not make good use of them to produce cleaner energy?”

The process is simple, but the impact is huge. “This biofuel is used in industrial boilers, mostly by manufacturing companies as well as the agro-food industry, hospitals, and care homes for the elderly.” Soria is also one of the Spanish ‘capitals’ of cured meat. “Our biggest clients are two main actors in the production of jamón - the pig farms and feed producers,” adds Roberto. “We’re very happy to be supporting traditional local industries.”

Biofor has demonstrated that forest biofuels are less harmful to the environment, but also a self-sustainable and profitable business. Nevertheless, the company still struggles to find financing to develop new product lines. “We recently wanted to expand our business by using recycled wood rather than just waste-wood. It’s the same business concept but with a greater environmental impact,” explains Roberto, “However, despite our track record, with fossil fuels still dominating the energy industry, we were drowning in banks’ risk-aversion. For this new product line, we needed special equipment, so the initial investment was huge and we required financial support.” Fortunately, Biofor secured an EU-guaranteed loan from Soria Futuro, backed by the EIF, with no collateral requirements and low interest rates, and this enabled the company to purchase the equipment necessary to develop this new product line.

“We’re always looking for new ideas and product lines. Soria is a small place, and we have a very active circle of entrepreneurs, exchanging ideas and building partnerships. There is definitely an entrepreneurship buzz now. As a result of one of these exchanges, we’re now looking into the possibility of using pine bark to make garden furniture.”

Company: Biofor (Spain)

Type of business: social enterprise, energy/biofuels

EIF financing: EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument

Financial intermediary: Soria Futuro 

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Spain, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/es/index.htm

 

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