PORTUGAL: Mega Solar Power Plant Begins to Operate

Pulished on IPSnews, by Mario de Queiroz, December 31, 2008.

AMARELEJA, Portugal – The most ambitious and innovative solar power project in the world kicked off Monday in this white-walled village in the southern Portuguese municipality of Moura, one of the most impoverished areas in the European Union.

The Acciona Energy S.A. company has put into service the Amareleja photovoltaic power plant, located 150 km south of Lisbon, which is capable of producing enough energy to supply 30,000 households in the south-central region of Alentejo.

Almost simultaneously, the mayor of Moura, José María Prazeres Pós-de-Mina, was selected as one of the ten finalists for the prestigious 2008 People of the Year award granted by OneWorld, a non-governmental news network that is one of the most highly-respected international organisations devoted to raising environmental awareness and promoting change …

… In 2007, the municipality of Moura sold the 88 percent stake it held in Amper Solar — owner of the plant installation rights — to the Spanish company Acciona, which has since become the sole shareholder in the solar plant, after the minority shareholders decided to follow the municipality’s example.

Portugal’s solar, wind, and wave energy projects have received unconditional backing from the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, which seeks to speed up the continent’s transition to a low-CO2 economy.

Until April 2004, Portugal’s solar and wind power generation was very low, in spite of the fact that the country is extremely sunny and windy.

The wind energy generated in Portugal prior to 2007 was in fact practically marginal. At present, this country of 92,000 square kilometres and 10.6 million inhabitants is one of the top wind power generators in the EU.

From 2004 to 2006, several wind power parks were built in Portugal, producing a total of 500 MW and putting this country in third place in the EU, after Germany (357,000 sq km and 82 million inhabitants), which produces 1,808 MW, and Spain (504,000 sq km and 46 million inhabitants), with a production of 1,764 MW, and ahead of Italy (301,000 sq km and 59 million inhabitants), which has a total production of 452 MW.

The change has been so drastic that Portugal went from being at the bottom of the EU’s renewable energy ranking to becoming one of the continent’s leading generators.  (full text).


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