At 4:05 p.m., the cooling tower of the Velilla del Río Carrión thermal plant in Palencia was demolished as part of the dismantling process of the plant, 56 years after its start-up and 15 months after its closure, requested from end of 2017.
Its blasting represents a symbolic, but giant, step in the energy transformation of our country towards a green, competitive and sustainable economy. Since 2001, Iberdrola has closed 17 coal and fuel oil thermal plants in the world; the last two, Velilla and Lada, in Spain. Positioned as a leader in the fight against climate change at the gates of COP26, the company is the largest electricity company in the world without coal production and remains firmly committed to being an emissions neutral company by 2030 in Europe.
The Velilla blasting has been carried out with maximum safety guarantees and minimal environmental impact. Electronic detonators with 82 kg of explosive have been used for the demolition of the tower – which exceeds one hundred meters in height and has a weight of more than 7,000 tons . The demolition technique used is one of the most efficient for the dismantling of power plants, by minimizing risks for workers, favoring the circular economy and helping to reduce environmental impact. In fact, the concrete and metal structure waste will be recycled.
Crash in five seconds
After the blast was detonated, the cooling tower has descended on its vertical with a slight tilt towards the north, without being a tipping, with the aim of grouping the debris towards the opposite side of the river. After the stability calculations, weakening work was carried out and, after the firing, the explosive charges have fragmented the support pillars , causing the construction to lose its balance and collapse under its own weight. The time elapsed from the moment of the shot to the collapse of the structure on the ground was about 5 seconds.
The isolated situation of the plant and the location of the cooling tower in the enclosure have avoided risks for other constructions, although security measures have been maximized for the operation and notices have been made to the Velilla del Río Carrión City Council and the rest of competent authorities. Likewise, the absence of nests of birds and other species has been verified and a temporary evacuation has been carried out in a preventive manner from the area delimited in a security perimeter of 250 meters.
The blasting of the cooling tower is part of the dismantling of all the plant’s facilities; a process of which about 35% has already been executed and will last for 48 months.
These jobs are involving a large number of suppliers -many of them local with a volume of work greater than the one they maintained during the operation of the plant- and around 50 professionals. About half come from contractor companies of the plant and premises; highly qualified professionals with extensive experience in the execution of this type of projects of great technical complexity.
Investments in 100% renewable projects, revitalization of the business fabric and local employment based on green principles and innovation and support for entrepreneurship are the pillars on which Iberdrola transforms the Velilla del Río Carrión region.
The company deploys a renewable plan in Castilla y León for the coming years that includes the installation of 1,800 MW of renewable energy, both wind and photovoltaic, with a planned investment of 1,300 million euros. In Velilla it will build one of the largest photovoltaic complexes in the region and in Spain (350-400 MW) with an investment of 300 million euros. In the region, Iberdrola is the leader in renewable energy with the operation of 5,200 MW, which makes it the autonomous community with the most green megawatts installed by the company.
Velilla’s transformation project also includes more investments in smart grids and sustainable mobility, circular economy projects and a Citizen Innovation Platform to encourage entrepreneurship.