Portugal plans auction for 500MW of floating PV this September

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A 220kWp floating solar pilot project from EDP at the Alto Rabagão dam in the north of Portugal. Image: EDP.

Portugal will carry out its third solar auction this September, with 500MW of floating PV capacity set to be allocated.

Following auctions in 2019 and 2020 that both resulted in record-low prices, the country’s government will now look to support the deployment of floating solar on at least seven reservoirs through its next tender process.

Environmental restrictions mean that unlike last year’s auction, energy storage will not feature, a spokesperson from Portugal’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Action told PV Tech.

In an interview with local media Antena 1 and Jornal de Negócios, Environment Minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes said most of the reservoirs that will host the floating PV projects are next to hydropower plants, enabling them to make use of existing grid infrastructure. One of the selected dams, Alto Rabagão, already hosts a 220kWp floating solar pilot project from Portuguese utility EDP.

While the pre-qualification for the auction has yet to open, Matos Fernandes said: “Judging by what happened in the last auctions, we will have many bidders.”

With Portugal aiming to cover 80% of its total power demand from renewables by 2030, by which time 9GW of solar PV is expected to be deployed in the country, the move to auction floating solar capacity forms part of government efforts to avoid potential land availability issues in the future.

Portugal’s State Secretary of Energy João Galamba said last November that the new format could reduce land availability risks, as developers won’t have to find suitable sites themselves: “If we move to these sorts of auctions with non-conventional surfaces, land and surface will be different, because they will be predesignated, and not something for the promoter to find, rent or buy.”

There were plans to also include land beside motorways to host solar projects in the upcoming auction, however this will not feature this year.

Last year’s solar auction awarded 670MW of capacity and saw Spanish renewables company Enerland post the record bid of €11.14/MWh for a 10MW lot. Both Portugal’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Action as well as winning bidders from the auction recently confirmed to PV Tech that project developments are progressing as planned.

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