The Portuguese state-owned company responsible for operations of a major dam on the River Guadiana has opened a tender to seek engineering, procurement and construction contractors for ten floating solar plants with a combined generation capacity of 50 MW on the reservoir that will be created by the dam.
The €50 million floating PV project was mostly financed with a €45 million Council of Europe Development Bank loan, said state-owned dam company Empresa de Desenvolvimento e Infraestruturas do Alqueva, S.A. (EDIA).
The solar arrays are expected to generate around 90 GWh per year next to the primary network pumping stations of the Alqueva Dam which has been built on the border of the Beja and Évora districts in the south of Portugal. “The [floating PV] project will occupy a total area of about 50 hectares of water surface and will require over 127,000 PV panels that will avoid the emission of about 30,000 tons of CO2 per year,” said a statement released by EDIA.
The electricity produced by the floating PV facilities will mostly power the dam’s pumping stations, with any surplus fed into the grid at market rates, said EDIA. “These plants will generate power mainly for self-consumption in the nearby pumping stations, minimizing transmission loses, and dramatically reducing power demand from the grid – generally, during the summer, and especially during the peak price period (around noon) – and therefore reducing the carbon footprint of water distribution,” the company said.
The largest floating solar installation will occupy more than half the reservoir surface and will be connected to the Álamos Pumping Station, the dam’s largest power consumer. The Renewable Energies Chair of the University of Évora will be responsible for the technical specifications, design, testing and monitoring of the project.
Strategic water reserve
EDIA added, the dam already hosts several small, ground-mounted PV plants and a 1 MW floating project is under construction.
The Alqueva Dam, which hosts a 518 MW pumped-storage hydropower plant, is one of the largest in Western Europe and features the region’s greatest area of artificial lakes – 250km².
The wider Alqueva Multipurpose Project includes the Pedrógão Dam and an associated 10 MW hydroelectric plant as well as a 119,139ha irrigation system. The project is intended to create a strategic water reserve with capacity sufficient to meet the needs of at least three successive years of drought.
*article was amended on Nov. 27 to correct wrong information on the Alqueva dam still being under construction.