The ambitious project will replicate the Alto Rabagão dam project, located in the Peneda-Gerês National Park, in the municipality of Montalegre, Vila Real District in Northern Portugal, but on an industrial scale.
EDP Produção president Rui Teixeira said that the pilot project for the floating photovoltaic plant in Alto Rabagão, which had been under test since November 2016, has “exceeded expectations”, with a production six percent higher than expected since start-up and greater efficiency than similar ground solutions.
For this reason, he said, EDP now intends to move onto a new, bigger project in the lower Alentejo, on the Alqueva dam; the largest manmade artificial lake in Europe, also commonly referred to as the ‘Great Lake’.
However the Alqueva project will be of greater scale and complexity since the Alqueva dam is a hydropower plant with a pumping system, which allows the reuse of water for electricity generation.
“Alqueva is one of the best solar radiation zones in the country and allows the installation of panels without too much shade or shadows”, the administrator explained.
He adds: “We started thinking about building on the Alto Rabagão project, taking advantage of other reservoirs we have in Portugal”.
The project for Alqueva is of “an industrial scale”, he notes, explaining that 11,000 solar panels are planned - compared to the 840 on the Rabagão dam - and an estimated annual output of 6,000MWh (compared to the 300MWh of the Alto Rabagão pilot project). This is equivalent to the consumption of a quarter of the population of Portel and Moura, two large cities in the districts of Beja and Évora, which flank the Alqueva dam.
This floating photovoltaic power station will also test two new possibilities: coupling solar panels lithium-ion batteries to accumulate energy and use outside solar production hours, and optimisation of the system, taking advantage of the existing pumps.
Speaking to Lusa News Agency, Rui Teixeira set the company’s newest investment within the framework of “the leading position that EDP has attained in energy transition” through its “ability to anticipate investing in new technologies”.
Presently the project is under public consultation, after which it will be assessed by the Directorate General for Energy and Geology (DGEG).
According to Mr. Teixeira, if the necessary authorisations are obtained, “the goal is to install the project in 2020”, with an estimated investment of 3.5 million euros.
The Alto Rabagão project will continue to host “pilot characteristics”, serving as “a living laboratory to test pioneering technology at European level” that explore the complementary relationship between the sun and water.