Europe’s largest floating solar panel facility built on top of hydro-electric dam
Image credit: edp
The largest floating solar park in Europe, which consists of almost 12,000 photovoltaic panels, has opened today in Alqueva, Portugal.
Construction work on the facility started seven months ago, and it will occupy around 4 hectares, equivalent to around 0.016 per cent of the total area of the Alqueva reservoir on which it is built.
The new platform has an installed power of 5 MW and the capacity to produce around 7.5 GWh per year, which means that it can supply more than 30 per cent of households in the south Portugal region.
The hybrid project will also include hydroelectric energy generated from the Alqueva dam, which the floating solar panels sit on top of. Plans are afoot to install a battery system with a nominal power of 1 MW and a storage capacity of around 2MWh. All these technologies will be using one single connection point to the existing grid.
EDP, the energy firm behind the project, ultimately plans to install up to 154 MW of renewable capacity in a complete hybrid farm, including 70 MW of floating solar PV, 14 MW of solar overcapacity and 70 MW of hybrid wind capacity.
This project will reinforce energy production from the reservoir, which is capable of producing 300GWh annually, avoids approximately 133,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
“Floating solar technology, in which EDP is a global pioneer, is a remarkable leap forward in the expansion of renewables and in accelerating the decarbonisation process,” said Miguel Stilwell d’Andrade, EDP CEO.
“Our hybridisation strategy, by combining water, sun, wind and storage, is clearly a logical path for growth in energy production in which EDP will continue to invest.”
The floaters that support the solar panels are made from recycled plastic combined with cork composites. The solution is being tested for the first time in Alqueva and offers a more sustainable option for floating solar panels. EDP said they help to reduce the weight of the platform by 15 per cent, and decrease the CO2 footprint of the project by about 30 per cent.
A study from last year found that floating solar farms could help to shield reservoirs and lakes from the worst effects of climate change, keeping their temperature lower by providing shielding from the Sun.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.