Legislative amendments pave way for Portugal’s 1.35 GW solar auction

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Portugal’s Council of Ministers has approved legislative changes that will allow the government to streamline its licensing process for solar projects, in a move that will pave the way for a 1.35 GW solar auction that is expected to begin this summer.

In an online statement, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, Portugal’s Minister of Environment and Energy Transition, said that the government would like to see as much as €6 billion invested in solar by 2030. Such an investment would be in line with the government’s plans to make the country carbon-neutral by 2050, with 80% of electricity to be derived from renewables by 2030 as a mid-term goal.

In January, Matos Fernandes revealed that the government planned to launch PV auctions in June. The government has slightly scaled back the amount of capacity it will award to developers from an initial plan of 1.75 GW of solar.

It aims to hold an auction for large-scale projects, which will be granted feed-in premium tariffs, as well as another auction for smaller installations, including rooftop PV arrays, which will be given a fixed tariff. The main points of connection to the grid will be in the municipalities of Portalegre, Estremoz and Castelo Branco.

Earlier this month, Portuguese news weekly Expresso reported that the government may face complaints from PV developers who have still not secured production licenses, despite having projects that are already in advanced stages of development. Construction started on a number of such solar projects going back to last year, suggesting that the private PPA segment could provide a way forward for some developers, outside of the government’s upcoming tenders.

Portugal’s cumulative installed PV capacity reached 670 MW at the end of 2018, according to statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).