EDIA, the Portuguese public company responsible for the construction and operation of the Alqueva project, that includes the country’s largest irrigated area with 170.000 hectares, is preparing to launch a public tender for the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) of 50MW of floating photovoltaics.
The total power is to be distributed over 10 sites next to the Alqueva’s primary network pumping stations. The tender will also include the operation and maintenance (O&M) for the first 5 years.
The project will occupy a total area of about 50 hectares of water surface and will require over 127,000 PV panels that will avoid the emission of about 30 thousand tons of CO2 per year.
With an estimated production of 90GWh per year, the energy obtained from these 10 photovoltaic plants would be enough to supply about 2/3 of the entire population of Baixo Alentejo, the main region served by the Alqueva Irrigation Plan.
This will be Europe’s largest floating photovoltaic project with a maximum cost of EUR 50 Million, financed through a EUR 45 Million loan by the Council of Europe Development Bank and EDIA’s resources.
The largest of these 10 floating photovoltaic power plants will occupy an area of 28 hectares (by itself the largest in Europe) and will be installed next to the Álamos Pumping Station, Alqueva’s largest power consumer.
The energy issue is crucial for the sustainability of the Alqueva project, as it is the main variable cost in water distribution. The sustained decrease in energy costs is an objective to be pursuit by EDIA in the coming years.
The energy generated by the floating PV panels will be locally consumed at the pumping stations. Only when this energy is not enough or when there is a surplus will it be bought (or sold) from the grid at current market conditions.
The differentiating element of this project is the need to use the neighboring water plans of the great electrical consumption sites for the installation of the generating plants. These artificial lakes are particularly well integrated in the landscape, since its high level are above the visual horizon and the locations are far from the major road axes and popular viewpoints.
The introduction of renewable energy through the installation of a large PV generators is a key priority, both economically and environmentally, follows the international trend and makes good sense in a region with excellent solar radiation.
These plants will generate power mainly for self-consumption in the nearby pumping stations, minimizing transmission loses, dramatically reducing power demand from the grid, generally during the summer and especially during the peak price period (around noon) and therefore reducing the carbon footprint of water distribution.
Alqueva’s Multipurpose Project has already installed several smaller PV plants, including its headquarters rooftop in Beja, (5) ground based, one floating offgrid with batteries and one 1MW floating plant under constrution.
Floating photovoltaic power generation is a mature technology with over 1GW installed worldwide and has huge development potential. The expansion of Alqueva’s irrigation perimeters that will happen in the next 4 years will also incorporate this technology as one of the solutions to lower the energy bill of the entire project.
EDIA’s floating photovoltaic tender
Power to be installed: 50MWp (spread over 10 locations)
Tender base value (maximum): 50 Million Euros
Site location: HERE
International public tender with prior qualification for EPC and 5 years O&M
Disclosure and applications: HERE