Portugal reveals winners of record-breaking solar auction

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(Image credit: Fickr / Jürgen Stemper // Bloemche Follow)

Portugal has unveiled the final results of the solar auction held over the summer, identifying a handful of major foreign winners of a tender hailed as a worldwide milestone.

French firm Akuo Energy and Spanish giant Iberdrola reaped together nearly half of the 1.15GW total awarded through the July auction, which made global headlines as reports emerged of bid prices of €14.76/MWh (around US$16/MWh).

Breaking the news of the price milestone to PV Tech last week, Energy state secretary João Galamba explained most of the auction winners were foreign players, declining however to name them at that stage.

Released this week, the final list shows the tender assigned 370MW to Paris-headquartered Akuo under a first modality, which offered winners 15-year fixed-price power purchase agreements (PPA).

At 150MW, it was the largest of Akuo’s three awarded projects that scored the €14.76/MWh tariff. Its two other winning schemes of 120MW and 100MW were contracted at prices of €20.73/MWh (around US$23/MWh) and €19.78/MWh (US$22.16/MWh), respectively.

Joining Akuo under the first, fixed-tariff modality was Power & Sol – with a 100MW project scoring tariffs of €17.19/MWh (US$19.26/MWh) – Everstream Energy Capital’s 50MW scheme and others. The priciest project was Aura Power’s 18MW venture, at €31.16/MWh (US$34.92/MWh).

The price of Iberdrola’s Portuguese PV debut

The tender – which had to process 10GW in solar bids – awarded a significant chunk of the final 1.15GW total to Spain's Iberdrola under a second modality, where developers were made to pay in return for the right to produce at market prices, also for 15 years.

Iberdrola pledged contributions ranging €5.1-26.75/MWh (around US$5.68-30MWh) in return for 149MW worth of contracts for its first-ever Portuguese PV projects, which will be split between the Algarve and the Tajo Valley.

Iberdrola – already present in Portugal through its energy distribution business and the 1.158GW Támega hydro project – was the main but not the only winner of the second auction category, with a separate 110MW project committing grid payments of €25.46/MWh (around US$28/MWh)

Designed to cater to more advanced, PPA-successful solar developers, the pay-to-produce auction basket drew scepticism from some quarters in the run-up to the auction. At past PV Tech events, some warned the design could pave the way for speculative bids.

Presented with the criticisms, state secretary Galamba told this publication: “We believe the conditions are there to commit participants to real investments. Winners have to pay €50,000/MW in guarantees and are forbidden to sell their licence to another party.”

The July auction is part of Portugal’s efforts to fuel a surge in installed PV capacity, from 572MW (2018) to 1.6GW (2021) and 8.1GW-9.9GW (2030). Coming up next is a 700MW second solar tender and a separate auction for energy storage, both in Q1 2020.

See here to browse Portugal's solar auction results in full

The prospects and challenges of European solar's new subsidy-free era will take centre stage at Solar Media's Large Scale Solar Europe 2020, to be held in Lisbon on 31 March and 1 April 2020

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