Portuguese municipality pulls plug on RPP Solar project

Abrantes municipality in central Portugal has withdrawn its support for a major new solar plant that was under development by Lisbon-based RPP Solar.

The ruling municipal council of Abrantes voted unanimously to revoke the licenses awarded to RPP Solar because of the company’s failure to stick to agreed deadlines, said Abrantes Muncipal Council President Maria do Céu Albuquerque.

Abrantes authorities have already invested €1 million in the 82-hectare terrain in Concavada parish, where more than 2,000 jobs were to be created in a project that promised to integrate the entire solar power production chain with the installation of half-a-dozen industrial plants, one of which was supposed to produce photovoltaic solar panels from silicon cells.

Since 2008, two industrial plants were built with a capacity to host six production lines that could potentially produce around 859 MW of panels per year and two offices totaling 30,000 square meters.

The buildings were never equipped with photovoltaic panel production equipment and were targeted by vandals several times. "RPP Solar never produced anything [here] and it is lamentable that the expectations of employment and wealth creation have ended with this white elephant," said Albuquerque in a statement carried by Portugal’s public broadcaster RTP.

She announced that all options for more project deadline extensions have been exhausted and that there has been no work on the site "for many months," adding that the entrepreneur promoting the project, who promised the creation of 2,000 jobs in Abrantes, was "unreachable."

Five years ago RPP Solar presented its ambitious plans to invest more than €1 billion in the construction of a handful of photovoltaic manufacturing facilities in Portugal. The Portuguese government last August decided to terminate all state support for RPP Solar’s project, claiming that the company failed to honor its commitments.