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Information on research and development (R&D) activities

6.- Information on research and development (R&D) activities


Abengoa has continued to increase its efforts in R&D+i (research, development and innovation) throughout 2012 (despite the ongoing global technology crisis), in the belief that these efforts require continuity which should not be compromised by crises or economic cycles if it is to achieve results.

Furthermore, the Group has strengthened its presence and in some cases its leadership, in various institutions and public and private forums which encourage cooperation between large technology companies, in which the short and long term future of the R&D+i activity is decided.


The established program for these types of activities has been largely achieved. Abengoa, thanks to those responsible for this strategy in each business area, has strived every day to innovate its technology as demanded by its activities,  primarily focusing on the following objectives:

  • Continuously and closely following the technologies which could affect each area of the business.
  • Selection of a portfolio of technologies that will maximize the competitive advantages of the Group.
  • The assimilation and implementation of technology available through transfer agreements.
  • Selecting the optimum path for the development of technologies.
  • Determining the marketing programs for the technology developed.
  • Support for innovation and technology from institutions/governments.

During 2012, Abengoa made significant Research, Development and Innovation (R&D&i) investment efforts, investing a total of €91,260 thousand (€90,630 thousand in 2011) through the development of new technologies in different areas of business (solar technology, biotechnology, desalination, water treatment and reuse, recycling, hydrogen, energy storage and new renewable energies).


The year 2012 has been essential to consolidate Abengoa Research in the commitment of the Company for the technological development and innovation. Abengoa Research works, included within Abengoa activities of energy and environment consists in research to generate knowledge, consultancy in complex technical problems and long-term technological development. In order to strenghen this activity, in 2012 the Office of patents and technological surveillance has been created, as a fundamental tool for industrial property protection of the Company. Currently, Abengoa has 78 patents registered and 125 patents under request process.

The strategic technologies of the company also experienced an important progress: the main development asset stem
from technologies intered for higher performance of concentrated solar power plants (CSP), for biorefineries, for the
treatment of municipal solid wastes (MSW) for energy production, and for water treatment plants.

Most relevant R&D projects carried out during the year 2012 have been, in the thermo-solar technology field, Solugas project, which is a demonstration tower plant with hybrid solar-gas technology. Its construction was finalized in May and it has been in operation since then. In addition, investments have been made to improve direct steam generation plants and in new materials for energy accumulation. In the biofuels segment, we can outline the construction of a pilot plant that produces bioetanol using municipal solid wastes (MSW) as raw material. In this plant, different types of MSWs will be tested, in order to adapt technology to different geographies. Additionally, the construction of a pilot plant for the production of biobutanol has been started. This new technology has the advantage that it can use assets and equipment already existing in Abengoa, with no need of additional capital expenditures. Regarding zinc recycling business, investments were made to develop a new technology that permits to recover the zinc which is retained in the slag within the recycling process, improving the product recovery ratio. In the desalination program, we have continued improving efficiency, especially by reducing costs of membranes which are necessary for the reverse osmosis process.