Portugal to hold first auction of right to install floating solar panels

Solar panels of the Alto Rabagao Floating Solar Photovoltaic Park pilot project are seen at the Rabagao river basin, in Montalegre, Portugal, September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura/File Photo

LISBON, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Portugal has launched its first auction for the right to install floating solar parks on the waters of seven of the country's dams, with a total production capacity of 263 megawatts.

Floating panels are being tested around the world, and Portugal's energy secretary Joao Galamba said late on Wednesday the technology not only had benefits for the environment but was also more energy-efficient.

They often complement hydroelectric generation, reusing existing facilities and avoiding the use of more land.

Portugal's plan is to install solar parks with a capacity of up to 100 MW on the waters of the southern Alqueva dam, the largest artificial lake in Western Europe, as well as 50 MW on the Castelo de Bode dam, located in the central region.

The Alqueva and the Castelo de Bode floating solar parks will be the biggest projects of the seven, which are all expected to be operating by 2023, Galamba said.

Portugal's largest utility EDP has been preparing for the expansion of this kind of renewable energy and installed a pilot floating solar power plant in the Alto Rabagao dam in 2017 to test the technology. read more

"We are certain that this auction will attract enormous interest," Galamba said, adding that interested parties must submit their bids by April 4 so a final decision can be made on April 19.

He said the electricity tariff at which bidders commit to sell the energy they produce would be decisive in choosing the winners.

Portugal held two auctions in 2019 and 2020 for on-land solar parks and both set world records for the lowest price of future output.

Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Catarina Demony and Alison Williams

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