Portugal announces new solar plan

The Portuguese government is planning to provide a new regulatory framework for the development of large-scale solar projects. The proposal for the new plan is briefly mentioned in the draft state budget law for 2018, which was unveiled by local newspaper Observador.

According to the document, the new solar plan, dubbed Plano Nacional Solar, is expected to identify Portugal’s more suitable areas for the development of utility-scale solar facilities and to support the creation of “a remuneration scheme based on market prices, and without subsidies paid by consumers, through the national electric system.”

The short text dedicated to the new plan does not specify if the new plan will include auctions, as recently requested by the local renewable energy association Apren, or if it will just create the administrative and regulatory framework for large-scale solar plants that sell power at market prices to the local grid in the so-called grid-parity mode, which means that no incentives such as FITs or regulated tariffs ensured by auctions will be granted.

On the other hand, the Portuguese secretary of energy Jorge Seguro Sanches has welcomed yesterday on its twitter account the start of construction of a 46 MW solar park “without incentives” in Orique, Beja district, southern Portugal. “This is one of the PV plants that will be built without subsidies paid by consumers”, said Seguro Sanches in a tweet. More details on how this project is being implemented, however, were not released.

The facility, which is being built by Spanish company Prosolia, is one of several utility-scale PV projects that the Portuguese authorities have recently approved. 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 reported.

Meanwhile, Portugal reached 474 MW of cumulative registered PV capacity at the end of July 2017, 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).