A huge floating solar farm has been towed out to its mooring on Portugal’s man-made Alqueva reservoir, with 12,000 solar panels set to be partnered with the reservoir’s hydroelectric generation and pumped storage capabilities.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that two tugboats had moved the mammoth array of 12,000 solar panels out to its mooring on the Alqueva reservoir, ahead of operations expected to start in July.
Built and operated by Portugal’s primary utility EDP on what is Western Europe’s biggest artificial lake, the 5MW floating solar project was approved a year ago and is expected to produce enough energy to supply 25% of the consumers in the region of Portel and Moura.
Portugal is one of many European countries ramping up their renewable energy production in an effort to transition to zero emissions as well as, more immediately, transition away from reliance on Russian gas.
And while Portugal is barely reliant on Russian hydrocarbons and the Alqueva reservoir project was in the works long before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this project is nevertheless another sign of the natural continuing transition away from European fossil fuels.
The largest solar farm in Europe is the 41.4MW Sellingen floating solar park in the Netherlands, developed by GroenLeven, boasting 76,616 solar panels and generating electricity enough to supply the equivalent of 12,000 households.
The Alqueva floating solar plant will serve an important role for the larger floating solar sector, as it provides something of a living laboratory for EDP.
The floating solar farm is built atop the Alqueva dam reservoir which also a capacity of 255.6MW of hydroelectricity.
The excess solar power from the floating array will be used to pump water up into the lake to be stored for later use.
Additionally, the 12,000 solar panels are complemented by a 1MW/2MWh lithium-ion battery storage system.
EDP will also have room to expand its floating solar capacity atop the Alqueva reservoir, having been awarded last month 70MW of grid connection capacity at Alqueva in Portugal’s most recent floating solar auction.
Additionally, EDP Renewables is expecting to be able to install a further 14MW of solar overcapacity and another 70MW of hybrid wind capacity at Alqueva.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.