Europe’s largest floating solar farm – which is on the Alqueva hydroelectric dam’s reservoir in Portugal – is ready to produce power in July.

Europe’s largest floating solar farm

The Alqueva reservoir is Western Europe’s largest artificial lake, and the Alqueva Dam is on the Guadiana River, one of the longest in the Iberian Peninsula. The dam is in Alentejo, which is in southern Portugal, near the Spanish border.

The floating solar farm, the size of four soccer fields, is made up of 12,000 solar panels that will generate 7.5 gigawatt-hours annually and will also be paired with lithium batteries that can store 2 GWh. It will be able to power around 1,500 households. EDP, Portugal’s main utility company, built the floating solar farm.

The cool thing about floating solar farms on hydropower reservoirs is that they can be connected to existing links to the power grid. And as Reuters points out, “Excess power generated on sunny days can pump water up into the lake to be stored for use on cloudy days or at night.”

The Alqueva floating solar farm is furthering EDP’s plan to reach net zero by 2030. Renewables, including hydropower, now make up 78% of EDP’s 25.6 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity.

EDP will expand the Alqueva floating solar farm because, last month, it secured the right to build a second, 70-MW installed capacity floating farm there.

In 2017, EDP installed an 840-panel pilot floating solar farm on the Alto Rabagão Dam. It was the first project in Europe that tested the pairing of hydro and solar power.

Portugal currently relies on Russia for around 10% of its natural gas, and this new floating solar farm will reduce that dependency.

Read more: Portugal brings forward 80% clean energy target to 2026 from 2030

Photo: EDP


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About the Author

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at michelle@9to5mac.com. Check out her personal blog.