The Repsol Foundation and the University of the Basque Country create a Classroom to drive circular economy

This new Energy Transition Classroom, which is promoted by the Repsol Foundation and the Scientific-Social Development and Transfer Vice-Rector’s Office at the University of the Basque Country, will study circular economy and the industrial value chain.

The Repsol Foundation and the Scientific-Social Development and Transfer Vice-Rector’s Office at the University of the Basque Country have launched a new Energy Transition Classroom to analyze the role of the circular economy in the industrial value chain, with the aim of disseminating regenerative models in production cycles and establishing connection points between circular economy and the decarbonization and dematerialization of industry.

Located in the Bilbao School of Engineering under the lead of Rikardo Mínguez, director of the Graphic Expression and Engineering Projects Department, this Classroom will involve teaching staff and expert researchers from the Biscay Campus that undertake several lines of work related to circular economy, with a particular focus on secondary materials (biomass, urban, industrial), primary materials that are scarce in the energy industry, strategies for plastics, and the decarbonization and dematerialization of the industrial sector, to mention but a few, thus promoting ecodesign, process innovation and efficiency, renewable energy, the use of alternative raw materials, and new consumption patterns.

The Classroom’s objectives include generating and spreading knowledge about this topic, building a community among the main industry players, and training students, teachers, and professionals from the affected industries, as well as other key circular economy figures. 

For this purpose, yearly activities will be carried out such as collaborative sessions in the university, participation in post-graduate or summer courses, and awards for the best bachelor’s or master’s degree final projects and PhD thesis related to circular economy. What’s more, seminars, forums, and an annual conference dedicated to the development of circular economy in the industrial sectors under analysis will be held to transfer academic knowledge to society.

Circular economy is one of the pillars of the energy transition, as our current economic system is based on a linear model (buy-use-throw away) that is not sustainable for the planet. To tackle this problem, in December 2019 the European Commission (EC) approved the European Green Deal, which aims to reach climate neutrality by 2050. The EC has also proposed a European Climate Law to turn this political commitment into a legal obligation. In this framework, the European circular economy action plan presented in March 2020 focuses on circular economy as a strategy for a new production model, a philosophy shared by the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy that was approved in June 2020.

A network of Education and Research Programs for the energy transition

In the framework of its strategy to promote scientific knowledge in the field of energy transition, the Repsol Foundation has several Education and Research Programs in a network of leading universities.

In addition to this new education and research program with the University of the Basque Country, the network includes the University of Barcelona, with a program focused on  carbon capture, use, and storage systems; the School of Industrial Engineers at the Technical University of Madrid (ETSII-UPM), where another education and research program related to mobility has been created; the Comillas Pontifical University-ICAI, where the education and research program works on analyzing ways to sustainably decarbonize industry using carbon footprint and product lifecycle analysis; and the Engineering School at the University of Navarre (Tecnun), whose program is focused on the role of hydrogen as an energy carrier.