Group invests in the Algarve sun for energy

by EMMA BERTENSHAW [email protected]

Although meeting government targets for debt recovery in Portugal remains a priority for most businesses, there are also signs of a strong commitment to improving natural energy usage in the Algarve.

The latest projects announced are for three major solar power plants to be built in the region by September this year, with a combined capacity to produce enough energy for 26,000 people.

Martifer Solar is the Portuguese-based company behind the high tech panels and is responsible for developing the projects from concept through to construction and management.

The combined power of all of them (142,000 solar panels occupying 65 hectares of land) should produce around 30,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

Three locations have been identified for the plants, one each in the municipalities of Loulé, Silves and Albufeira.

Public consultation of the environmental impact study for the Ferreiras’ project in Albufeira is taking place until January 30, organised by the CCDR (Commission for Coordination and Regional Development in the Algarve).

The commission also said that the project for Ferreiras is the only one requiring such a study due to its location. Ferreiras is expected to produce electricity for around 5,300 people.

Works at the Avalades area of Silves have already started with conclusion expected in June. The solar plant, the largest of the three, will have capacity to produce energy for around 12,200 people.

Work at the plant in Loulé is set to finish in September, with the project expected to produce enough energy for around 8,500 people.

Henrique Rodrigues, Martifer Solar’s CEO, said: “It demonstrates Martifer Solar’s capacity to attract foreign investment towards the Portuguese renewables sector, despite the current difficult economic situation.”

The public tender for the three plants was announced in October 2010 by the Directorate-General of Energy and Geology.

Investment for the project will come from BNP Paribas, the French banking group which reportedly secured €437 million back in December 2010 for investment in renewable energy projects throughout Europe.

From its beginnings as a metal construction company in the 1990s, the operating revenue of the Martifer Group reached €602.1 million in 2010.

As conventional and unstable sources of gas and oil dwindle and are losing popularity due to emissions, the newer and popular “green” energy is set to benefit countries with a plentiful supply of clean sun, wind and sea energy such as Portugal.

Apart from saving energy using what is found naturally in the Algarve, this will also meet the highest international standards in green energy.

Henrique Rodrigues believes that the new plants will bring both economic and ecological benefits for the region.

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