Portugal is about to launch Europe’s largest floating solar park, enough for 1,500 families

Two tugboats moved a huge system of 12,000 photovoltaic panels, the size of four football pitches, to its mooring in Portugal’s Alqueva reservoir ahead of the commissioning of Europe’s largest floating solar park in July .

Built by the country’s leading utility company, EDP, on Western Europe’s largest man-made lake, the glittering floating island part of Portugal’s plan to reduce reliance on imported fossil fuelswhose prices have skyrocketed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Blessed by long hours of sunshine and Atlantic winds, Portugal has accelerated its switch to renewable energy. But even though Portugal uses almost no Russian hydrocarbons, its gas-fired power plants continue to feel the pressure of rising fuel prices.

Miguel Patena, director of the EDP group in charge of the solar project, said that “When the tugs put the panels in place, the electricity produced by the floating park, with an installed capacity of 5 MW, will cost a third of that produced by a gas-fired power station.

The panels of the Alqueva reservoir, which is used to generate hydroelectric power, would produce 7.5 GWh of electricity per yearand would be supplemented by lithium batteries to store 2 GWh.

solar panels will supply energy to 1,500 familiesi.e. a third of the needs of the neighboring municipalities of Moura and Portel.

This project is the largest floating solar park in a hydroelectric dam in Europe, it is a very good reference.

Solar panels mounted on pontoons on lakes or in the sea have been installed everywhere from California to polluted industrial ponds in China as part of the fight to reduce CO2 emissions.

Floating panels do not require valuable land, and those installed in reservoirs used for hydroelectric power generation are particularly cost effective because they can be connected to existing power grids. Excess electricity generated on sunny days can pump water into the lake and store it for use on cloudy days or at night.

Ana Paula Marques, board member of EDP, said the war in Ukraine demonstrates the need to accelerate the shift to renewable energy.

He said Alqueva’s project is part of EDP’s strategy of “be 100% green by 2030since hydroelectricity and other renewable energies now represent 78% of EDP’s 25.6 GW of installed capacity.

In 2017, EDP installed a floating solar pilot project with 840 panels at the Alto Rabagao dam, the first in Europe to test the complementarity of hydroelectricity and solar energy.

EDP ​​has already planned to expand the Alqueva project. In April, it obtained the right to build a second floating park with an installed capacity of 70 MW.

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