Powered by price drop, 1.7 GW of Solar Projects on the horizon in Portugal

Despite looming grid constraints and an uncertain regulatory framework, projects for big solar parks are escalating in Portugal.

Portugal’s Ministry of Economy recently announced in a press release that 81 new large-scale, ground-mounted solar power plants with a combined capacity of 1.7 GW were submitted to the Directorate General for Energy and Geology (DGEG) in the first half of September.

“All of these projects will be developed under market regime, they will not be supported by public subsidies paid by consumers,” the Portuguese government said. “Portugal is willing to comply with its 2020 goal of 31% incorporation of renewable energies into final energy consumption. Looking forward to 2030, the European goal was set at 32%, but we have the more ambitious goal, 40% of renewables in energy consumption.”

In mid-August, Jorge Seguro Sanches, Secretary of Energy revealed that the total capacity of approved large-scale PV projects totaled 1 GW, with the last three projects amounting to 145.5 MW.

These developments follow the government’s solar plan, the Plano Nacional Solar that is aimed at identify Portugal’s more suitable areas for the development of utility-scale solar PV, and to support the creation of “a remuneration scheme based on market price, without subsidies paid by consumers, through the national electric system”.

These developments follow the continued drop in rates for modules and related solar equipment, that has ensured price parity or competitiveness between renewable power and non-renewable sources.

It is still unclear if the scheme will include a mechanism for hybrid, wind and solar auctions recommended by the European Commission to member states. The most concrete option for utility-scale solar in Portugal at present seems to be the corporate PPA segment, where the first contracts are now being signed and construction of the first facilities has begun.

Most of the projects, being developed in this new wave of solar rise will need to cross a few hurdles to secure grid-connections. The grid constraints are likely to make the developers sweat in the near future.  Portuguese energy regulator, Entidade Reguladora dos Serviços Energéticos (ERSE) recently approved a network expansion plan which is expected to ease solar PV development.

Read: The road to 2020. It Matters For Renewables.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a correspondent at iamrenew.com and writes on renewable energy and sustainability. As an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he also works as a staff writer for saurenergy.com.

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