Solar panels for world’s first combined hydro & floating PV project installed in Portugal

Photo: EDP

The project came about as the result of a pilot tender to add PV generation to the hydroelectric dam in Northern Portugal, in which Ciel & Terre was chosen as EPC provider. The solar panels are installed on a floating island, and will allow the plant to save hydropower to compete at peak demand times.

Ciel & Terre is a market leader in floating PV, having delivered its Hydrelio solution to more than 60 installations in 16 countries. The company is now targeting dam reservoirs as preferred sites for its installations, estimating that covering just 10% of the world’s largest 50 dams could add 400 GW of solar capacity.

The Alto Rabagão dam has been in operation has been in operation since the 1960s, with a capacity of 68 MW. Portuguese energy giant EDP (Energias de Portugal) acknowledged the potential for combining solar and hydroelectric generation, which led to the tender announcement.

According to Ciel & Terre, the location was chosen due to its high level of difficulty, due to the water depth of 60 metres and surface level variation of more than 30 metres.