Portugal: Europe’s largest floating solar park to open in July

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Two tugs are carrying floating platforms with 12,000 solar panels, the size of four football fields, to their location in Alcueva, Portugal, where Europe’s largest floating solar park will operate in July.

A project of the Portuguese energy group EDP, which invests in renewable energy sources, in particular wind and solar, the floating island is located in the largest artificial lake in Western Europe and is part of Portugal’s plan to get rid of dependence on imported minerals. whose prices have skyrocketed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Taking advantage of the sunshine and winds of the Atlantic, Portugal has accelerated the development of renewable energy sources, and although it uses almost no Russian hydrocarbons, gas-fired power plants are feeling the pressure of high fuel prices.

The head of the EDP group’s solar program, Miguel Patena, said that when the tugs put the solar panels in place, the cost of electricity generated by the floating park, with a capacity of 5 megawatts (MW), would correspond to one third of the cost of energy generated by a gas station.

The Alcueva Solar Park, whose dam is used to generate hydroelectric power, will generate 7.5 gigawatt / h (GWh) of electricity per year. The 2 GWh will be stored in electric lithium batteries.

The solar panels will supply electricity to 1,500 households, providing one-third of the needs of the neighboring cities of Moura and Portel.

“The project is the largest floating solar hydroelectric dam park in Europe and a landmark,” said Miguel Patena.

Solar panels mounted on floating platforms in lakes or at sea are used from California to China as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Floating solar parks do not require the use of expensive land and those that have been developed in artificial lakes of hydroelectric power stations have high economic efficiency as they are connected to existing connections to the electricity distribution network. Excess energy generated on sunny days can be used to pump water to the hydroelectric plant’s artificial lake which is stored for use on cloudy days or at night.

Ana Paula Marches, a member of the EDP group’s executive board, said the war in Ukraine showed the need to speed up the shift to renewable energy. Alcueva’s project is part of the EDP strategy for 100% green energy by 2030. Today, hydroelectric and other renewable energy sources account for 78% of the Portuguese group’s 25.6 GW generation capacity.

Already in 2017, the EDP launched the first pilot floating solar park of 840 panels at the Alto Rampagao Dam. It was the first European hydroelectric and solar coupling test.

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