Portugal: projects for solar parks are proliferating

The number of projects for big solar plants has increased considerably in Portugal over the past months, although the local government has not yet provided any sort of specific regulatory framework for their development.

In late May, the Portuguese renewable energy association Apren called on the government to launch an auction for large-scale solar and wind projects on the model of the auctions recently held by the Spanish government, which allocated around 7 GW of renewable energy generation capacity, and almost 4 GW of solar. So far, however, the Portuguese government has not revealed if or when an auction mechanism for renewables, which is recommended by the European Commission to all its member states, will be launched.

In anticipation of auctions that will very likely be held in Portugal over the next years, several projects for solar parks were submitted to regional and central authorities over the past months. The latest is a 20 MW PV plant planned for the municipality of Vidigueira, in the District of Beja in southern Portugal. In a press release, the town council said the plant is expected to generate around 35 GWh per year. The project, which is being proposed by Lisbon-based Sunchapter X, Lda., a unit of Spanish company Prosolia Energy, will consist of 60,480 polycrystalline modules with an output of 330 W and will require an investment in the range of €15 million to €18 million.

Prosolia, on the other hand, started construction on a 46 MW solar park in Orique, which is also in the Beja district, in mid-August. According to Portuguese financial newspaper Expresso, the Portuguese government has so far approved 14 large-scale PV projects with a combined capacity of 521 MW. These projects, whose aggregate investment is estimated at around €381 million, would be built without additional costs for power consumers, the article reports. Furthermore, another 1,106 MW of projects is currently under review by the the Portuguese Directorate General for Geology and Energy (DGEG). According to the article, some of these projects may be approved as power generation projects under a special regime by September 15.

Meanwhile, Portugal reached 474 MW of cumulative registered PV capacity at the end of June 2018, according to the latest data from the DGEG. Not all of this capacity, however, is currently installed or connected to the grid. According to Expresso, the current installed PV power has reached only 291 MW. Most of Portugal’s PV capacity comes from residential and commercial PV installations. Of the registered cumulative PV capacity, in fact, 166.6 MW is represented by microgeneration PV systems (up to 250 kW), while another 110.9 MW comes from mini-generation PV systems (up to 368 kW).