Auction for floating solar power production on dams starts Friday

  • Lusa
  • 25 November 2021

The government will auction the exploration of 262 megawatts (MW) of solar energy in seven dams in the country, 100 of which in Alqueva.

The environment minister, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, has announced that the tender for 262 megawatts (MW) of floating solar power in seven dams starts on Friday and ends on January 29.

The government will auction the exploration of 262 megawatts (MW) of solar energy in seven dams in the country, 100 of which in Alqueva, the “largest floating solar project in the world,” according to Assistant Secretary of State for Energy, João Galamba.

“In this auction only 262 MW will be placed in seven different dams: Alqueva, Castelo de Bode, Cabril, Alto Rabagão, Paradela, Salamonde and Tabuaço. The areas or capacity available range from a minimum of 8 MW at the Salamonde dam to 100 MW at the Alqueva dam,” he said on Wednesday.

According to the Environment Minister, the next auctions do not yet have a date set, but the government is aiming for the next one to take place in late 2022.

“We are achieving various things with the auction. Fair prices, so that not only is their direct investment here, creating wealth, but others come to invest in Portugal to benefit from cheap electricity,” the minister said.

He rejected that there are advantages for the current concessionaires of the dams, even technical ones, in bidding at the auctions.

“What is under concession to EDP, Iberdrola and now Engie in the dams, in the case of those that were sold, is the dam itself and the ability to produce electricity there,” explaining that “the water does not belong to anyone other than the public water domain, managed by the APA [Portuguese Environment Agency],” he said.

“There is no advantage here”, he guaranteed, saying that “what will be paid to occupy the space is the same for everyone, it doesn’t matter who will do it”, and the “connection to the grid is from REN”.

At the presentation session, APA vice-president, José Carlos Pimenta Machado, explained that in the territories of the dams under concession “the body of water is public, the bed and the banks are private,” which allows auctions to be held openly.

The minister also clarified that the ownership title of the auctions “is for 30 years,” and that therefore “production can happen for 30 years,” but the auction contract “is for 15 years.

“Whoever bids, for 15 produces electricity under the conditions that result from the auction. Then they have the other 15 years to produce in the normal market regime,” he said.

João Matos Fernandes also said that it “makes no sense” to increase the water resources tax specifically for this type of use of space, and the rate “can be updated each year.

According to João Galamba, APA “has identified around 700 hectares in the basins already studied” for potential exploration in the future.

“We will launch a succession of auctions where we will take advantage of these 700 hectares already identified. Other dams have yet to be evaluated. We will do so in the future,” said Galamba.