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Environment Minister boosts Portugal’s solar production capacity

pvPortugal’s government has approved its 2018-2027 plan to strengthen its electricity distribution grid to cater for a significant increase in renewable energy supply.

João Matos Fernandes, Portugal’s environment minister has announced a solar production auction to take place in the summer when 1.75 GW of capacity will be up for grabs as part of the government’s energy transition programme.

The €535 million electricity distribution energy plan has just been approved by the executive and was announced by grid operator Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN) in a filing with the Securities Market Commission.

The enregy regulator has announved a different version of the plan when identifying the southern Alto Alentejo, the Baixo Alentejo and the Algarve as strategically important for the development of large-scale solar plants.

Two new transmission lines will be constructed to integrate the power generated by the new solar production facilities.

“It is scientifically proven that south Algarve and north Alentejo are the areas with the biggest potential for solar energy in Europe, the only comparable area being in central Turkey,” said João Matos Fernandes, aware of the environmental objections to large scale solar development in the Algarve region.

Around 1.75 GW of photovoltaic energy capacity is to be auctioned. The process will accept licensed projects and new proposals.

Fernandes confirmed small-sized solar plants will be awarded a fixed tariff with bigger projects receiving a feed-in premium on top of the wholesale electricity price.

Fernandes said the auction details will be released by the end of April and said he is keen that foreign investors take part.

At the end of 2018, Fernandes outlined the government’s energy strategy, aiming for 80% of demand to be met from renewable, clean energy 2030 and plans to electrify 65% of the Portuguese economy by 2050.