Licences issued for solar farms in Lagoa, Bensafrim and Alcoutim

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pvThe Secretary of State for Energy has given the go-ahead for six solar power farms in the Algarve and Alentejo.

These solar panel farms will produce electricity from sunlight and are to be paid for by Hyperion Energy Investments for the plants in Ferreira do Alentejo, Bensafrim and Moura, by Goldiport Solar in Lagoa and by Goldnalco in Alcoutim.

The tourism-friendly municipality of Lagoa gets the biggest solar farm, to the distress of those who will end up overlooking it.

When these projects were last announced in March 2017, remember that any positive investment news gets at least two announcements, Secretary of State, Jorge Seguro Santos, said that some of these were existing old projects so would qualify for the full taxpayer subsidy for renewable energy - a scheme that no longer exists.

Left Bloc MPs, João Vasconcelos and Jorge Costa, rightly spotted at that time that this it was hardly fair that already wealthy business people should be subsidised by the Portuguese taxpayer. Questions were raised in parliament.

The Hyperion project in Bensafrim, Lagos, is owned by Pedro Bastos Rezende and João Talone, the latter being a former chief executive of EDP who knows the 'ins and outs' of these ‘money-for-nothing’ subsidy systems for solar projects. Talone also led a project to redesign and restructure the whole Portuguese energy sector so it is presumed that he knows anyone worth knowing when it comes to the licence application process.

But today’s announcement stated that these new energy plants will not attract taxpayer subsidies.

The government’s stated view is to "promote the decentralised production of renewable energy, without the need for subsidies, either for self-consumption or for sale to the network at market prices."

It was a shock last year to find that old projects that had been sat on for years, still qualified for these taxpayer-funded subsidies. What now is more surprising is that the new licences do not carry subsidies and the companies involved have said nothing - in public anyway.

This all points to a deal having been done by Seguro Sanches and the companies involved - companies which, quite legally, should have received tens of millions of euros of State subsidy over the lifetime of their solar farms.

Why these solar farms have to be in the Algarve remains one of life’s mysteries. The Alentejo is almost totally devoid of people and is crying out for investment.

The Algarve "does not have the space for hundreds of hectares of solar panels" according to one irate Bensafrim local, adding that "property owners are painfully aware of the drop in house prices in the immediate vicinity of these plants, yet there's nothing we can do."


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