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A bird's eye view of the Alqueva reservoir, Source: Honza Soukup, on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Portugal assembles Europe’s largest floating solar park

Portugal assembles Europe’s largest floating solar park

The facility will meet the power needs of 1500 families

EDP, Portugal’s main utility company, is busy constructing what will become the world’s largest floating solar farm located on the Alqueva reservoir. The floating park, which resembles a large undulating raft, will be one of the centre pieces in the Iberian country’s strategy to reduce its dependency on carbon fuels and increase the importance of renewables.

The Alqueva dam can provide sufficient water surface since it is itself another record holder – being the largest reservoir in Western Europe. The solar farm is expected to become complete in July and as Reuters reported it covers the size of four football fields, consisting of 12,000 solar panels.

It is a cheap and efficient energy source

Portugal has decided to take advantage of its Southern seaside location, which grants a plentiful supply of sunshine and winds throughout the year, and to increase its energy production from these renewables drastically.

EDP is also committed to the idea of going 100% green by 2030. Currently, 78% of the company’s energy output comes from renewable sources, mainly hydropower.

Floating panels do not require valuable real estate and those on reservoirs used for hydropower are particularly cost effective as they can hook up to existing links to the power grid. Excess power generated on sunny days can pump water up into the lake to be stored for use on cloudy days or at night.

The panels on the Alqueva reservoir, which is itself used to generate hydropower, would produce 7.5 gigawatt/hours (GWh) of electricity a year and would be complemented by lithium batteries to store 2 GWh.

It is estimated that 1,500 families living in the nearby towns of Moura and Portel will be able to enjoy the floating farm’s energy supply.

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