Portugal approves plan to improve grid, announces 1.75 GW to be allocated in first solar auction


Portugal’s plan to make its grid strong enough to absorb more intermittent renewable energy up to 2027 – the Plano de Desenvolvimento e Investimento da Rede de Transporte de Eletricidade – was approved by the government last week, as announced by grid operator Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN) in a filing with the Portuguese Securities Market Commission.

The plan, REN said in its statement, will cost around €535.1 million.

A slightly different version of the policy had been approved by energy regulator Entidade Reguladora dos Serviços Energéticos in July. At the time, the regulatory body identified the southern zones of Alto Alentejo and Baixo Alentejo and Algarve as strategically important for the connection of large-scale solar plants. Two new transmission lines will be built to integrate the power generated by future solar parks in the area and transfer it to inland areas.

“It is scientifically proven that south Algarve and north Alentejo are the areas with the biggest potential for solar energy in Europe, the only comparable area being in central Turkey,” João Matos Fernandes, Portuguese minister for the environment and energy transition, reportedly told Reuters.

Summer tender for 1.75 GW

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The minister added, around 1.75 GW of PV generation capacity is due to be allocated through a solar power auction planned for next summer. The auction will be open to licensed projects and new schemes, Fernandes told Reuters at the end of last week, as he confirmed small-sized solar plants will be awarded a fixed tariff with bigger projects receiving a feed-in premium on top of the wholesale electricity price.

Fernandes also told the news service the bidding terms of the auction will be outlined in March or April, and said the government wanted to take into account the opinions of “many foreign investors who are very interested in taking part”.

In late January, the minister said Portugal had a pipeline of around 1.2 GW of approved projects, with 49 MW already in commercial operation. At the end of August, the total capacity of approved PV schemes was around 1 GW and a further 1.7 GW worth of solar parks were being reviewed by local environmental authorities.

Late last year, the minister unveiled Portugal’s energy strategy, which aims for 80% of power demand to be met from clean energy generation by 2030 and is bidding to electrify 65% of the Portuguese economy by 2050.

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