The Spanish Iberdola has received an environmental license from the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) to build a photovoltaic system in Santiago do Cacém in Portugal. The company claims it is the largest solar park in Europe and the fifth largest in the world.
The solar park, named after the poet Fernando Pessoa, is scheduled to go into operation in 2025 and will have an installed capacity of 1,200 MW. According to Iberdola, it will be able to generate enough green energy to meet the needs of around 430,000 homes – that’s a population twice the size of the city of Porto. It is also estimated that the plant will save 370 million cubic meters of gas each year.
To realize this ambitious project, Iberdola is collaborating with Prosolia Energy, while the Portuguese operator REN is responsible for the grid connection.
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In particular, the solar system should also promote the sustainability of the local ecosystem. In addition to creating around 2,500 jobs, the company aims to provide vocational training, improve tourism in the region and provide solar energy to nearby communities.
The land on which the facility will be built will also be used for grazing sheep and for the introduction of beehives, while native tree species will be planted in the surrounding area.
Image of the Núñez de Balboa solar power plant in Iberdola, Portugal. Photo credit: Iberdola
“This solar farm sets a new benchmark by combining Europe’s clean energy ambitions with the delivery of tangible environmental and social benefits. We must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” Iberdrola CEO Ignacio Galán said in a statement. “We are proud to continue and increase our commitment to Portugal with a new clean infrastructure across the country […]. Cooperation with the Portuguese authorities was also essential to bring this project to this stage in record time.”
Iberdola plans to invest an additional €3 billion in wind and solar power in Portugal over the coming years, facilitated by the country’s favorable green energy regulations.
The company has already completed three solar parks in Portugal and will start building three more in 2023, while another will be operational in 2024.
If initiatives like these continue across Europe, the EU could only come closer to its goal of producing 320 GW of solar power by 2025 and nearly 600 GW by 2030.