Another 145.5 MW of utility-scale solar gets green light in Portugal

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The Portuguese secretary of energy, Jorge Seguro Sanches, has confirmed on his government department’s Twitter account that the Directorate General for Energy and Geology (DGEG) has approved three large-scale PV projects with a combined capacity of 145.5 MW.

Prior to the politician’s tweets, several Portuguese media cited a government press release revealing the solar parks would be in Almoster, in the district of Santarém, central Portugal, and would each have a 48.5 MW capacity. The developer is Escalabis Solar.

The government has already authorized more than 1,000 MW of solar energy without Portuguese families having to pay any kind of subsidy in the electricity bill, without feed-in tariffs,” Mr. Seguro Sanches said.

The projects are expected to be developed as part of Mr. Seguro Sanches’ solar plan, dubbed the Plano Nacional Solar, which is expected to identify Portugal’s more suitable areas for the development of utility-scale PV, 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 plan, however, is currently facing several obstacles, the biggest of which is represented by grid constraints and available capacity. Another concern is a lack of clarity over the scheme rules, which are based on a draw system for the selection of projects.

Portuguese energy regulator Entidade Reguladora dos Serviços Energéticos (ERSE) recently approved a network expansion plan which is expected to help all of the above-mentioned 1 GW of approved PV projects come online. Construction has started on several of these big “unsubsidized” solar parks and the first PPAs have been signed.