An €18 million project to build a new solar energy plant in Paderne, Albufeira, was officially presented last week.
The ‘Central Fotovoltaica de Paderne’ will include nearly 40,000 solar panels, covering a 28-hectare plot in Escarpão, with a capacity of 17.4 megawatts.
The energy produced annually will be enough to “power over 8,000 households and avoid the emission of 9,620 tons of carbon dioxide,” said Filinto Martins, general manager of NextPower III.
The fund was created by NextEnergy Capital (NEC), a British specialist investment and asset manager for the renewable energy sector.
This is NEC’s first project in Portugal, a country it says “has a lot of room to grow in terms of solar energy production”.
Construction is due to begin next year unless “some public health-related setback forces us to stop the works or affects the supply of materials,” Martins said.
He admitted there are “some risks” associated with this project, such as the “unpredictability of the sale of electricity in the first years”.
Still, he believes investors will get their money back in the long run. Martins also said the project will have a great “environmental impact” as it will help produce “greener energy”.
In a statement released on NextEnergy Capital’s website, the company’s managing partner and chief investment officer Aldo Beolchini stressed that “Portugal and many other countries worldwide are stepping-up their commitments to increase clean energy production.
“Whether it is for reducing their carbon emissions, start-up the green hydrogen economy or to promote a green recovery from COVID pandemic, we are proud to be contributing to this global effort whilst opening new markets for NextEnergy,” he added.
Meanwhile, Albufeira Mayor José Carlos Rolo has high hopes for the project and is convinced it will bolster a part of the municipality that “few people speak about and which is often forgotten”.
The mayor also said the solar plant will help promote Albufeira in the UK.
“We will have a symbolic plaque of this project at the NextEnergy Capital offices in London,” said Rolo, who described himself as a staunch supporter of alternative green energies.
While he admitted that the project faced “some obstacles” – without explaining exactly what these were – he stressed that the council and the developer were able to overcome the hurdles.
Rolo added that NextEnergy Capital will also set up another solar plant to power the Albufeira fire station.
More investment on the way
Filinto Martins, who believes the Paderne solar power plant will contribute towards the “economic and sustainable development of the Algarve”, said the project will also pave the way for further investments in the Iberian Peninsula.
He added that it is a “key market” for NextEnergy Capital due to its near-constant sunshine.
NEC has what it calls “three investment vehicles”: two private funds, NextPower III and NextPower II, and one listed investment company, NextEnergy Solar Fund Limited.
Original article written by João Chambino for Barlavento newspaper.