Portugal has been making headlines for its recent extreme tempertures and subsequent wildfire in the south. Eight areas in the country exceeded previous heat records last week by reaching 45 and 46 degree celsius. This is much closer to the 47.4 degree celcius recorded during the deadly heat wave of August 2003 – the hottest ever temperature recorded in the country. As a result, large sections of the country have remained on red alert on the Civil Protection Agency’s danger scale.
The country has thus decided to use solar power itself as a means to diversify its renewable energy production. After generating 103% of its national electricity needs in March from renewables, the country has put a claim on proving its worth as a green energy leader in Europe. Most of Portugal’s renewable energy comes from hydro (55%) and wind (42%).
WElink Energy and China Triumph International Engineering Company’s new solar plant inauguration called Ourika! Was inaugurated on July 26. Located in Ourique, Alentejo, it’s been operating since June following 11 months of construction and $39.8 mn in investment.
It is one of the largest solar plants in Europe. Its 142,000 solar panels will reportedly generate 80 gigawatts-hour of energy per year, which can power about 23,000 homes. Over its expected 30-year lifespan, Ourika! Is expected to produce a total of 46 megawatts of installed power.
It is also the first plant on the Iberian Peninsula – and one of the largest in Europe to connect to the main electricity grid without guaranteed tariffs or other public subsidies. Despite all this, the project does not come at any cost to consumers or taxpayers.
Speaking to the press during its inauguration, Economy Minister Manuel Caldeira Cabral said that Ourika! highlights Portugal’s competitive potential in renewable energies — emphasising that the country has some of the best conditions for solar energy production, not only in Europe, but in the whole world.
He stressed that there will be a wave of solar power plants popping up throughout the country following Ourika!’s lead, that will enable Portugal to “more than triple” solar energy production by 2022 and multiply its generation six-fold by 2025.