By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]
A new project to create a renewable energy park in the Algarve aims to turn the region into an example of green evolution.
Founder and Managing Director of the soon-to-be-implemented Algarve Energy Park (AEP), Dutch businessman Marc Rechter, said: “The new energy park will create a platform for renewable energy production, research, training, edutainment and interaction with the general public, with a particular focus on solar energy and preventive healthcare.”
He added: “It aims to develop a model which enables a sustainable innovation driven community in collaboration with leading academic institutions and industry partners, providing companies, researchers and deciders with optimal conditions for developing their businesses and carrying out breakthrough projects in the area.”
Renewable energy is fast-growing and will become increasingly important. Portugal itself is already viewed internationally as a leading country in the adoption of sustainable energies, ahead of the US, for example.
“The AEP project embodies a strategic plan to accelerate the development and deployment of cost-effective low carbon technologies,” added the spokesman.
The park will be located near to the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, approximately 10 minutes northwest of Portimão, covering an area of approximately 200 hectares, and is expected to represent a total investment of 350 million Euros.
The positive impact of the AEP on the Algarve, in terms of industry diversification as well as academic opportunities, is expected to outweigh by far the benefits of implementing a similar project near alternative sites in the centre or north of the country.
The park, which will be built over a period of six to seven years with the first units producing energy expected to be concluded by March next year, consists of five independent, but complementary, components. Each component will be developed in partnership with one or more anchor partners, with the first phase of the Algarve Energy Park being a Solar Demo Platform planned for the Eastern Algarve.
The infrastructure will include energy generation and distribution, a Centre for Sustainable Energy, an Energy Experience Park, a Preventive Health Care Clinic and a Clean Tech Village.
“It will feature a state of the art infrastructure including photovoltaic, solar thermal, micro wind energy, bio mass, electric car charge ports, gray water for irrigation, smart grids, and xeriscaping, demonstrating a real-time ability to sustain quality of life with the usage of conservation practices and renewable energy sources.
“The ultimate goal is for the whole structure to be self-sufficient energy-wise, producing all the energy it consumes within the AEP and further on export that energy,” said the spokesman.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy, specialising in the next generation solar technology, smart grids and fuel cells will be anchored by companies focused on renewable energy technology and product research, assembly and testing.
The Energy Experience Park will be a public facility which will feature five ‘worlds’ where visitors will interact, transact and learn how new and existing products and services will allow them to actively engage in a sustainable lifestyle.
The Preventive Health Clinic will support the emerging demand for personalised medicine and preventive diagnostics. It will meet the needs and requirements of the changing healthcare landscape and patients’ needs for a preventive health care approach and advanced genetic testing.
The Clean Tech Village will function in support of activities within the other components of the Algarve Energy Park.
“Innovative green design, combined with advanced systems and low or zero carbon solutions will be the two key differentiators of this component, offering a range of experimental and demonstration opportunities to academics, industry and end-users.
“The AEP will further contribute to advance Portugal as a leading and pioneering country in the renewable energies scene, raising the profile of academic and industry partners who join the initiative,” said the spokesman.
“This project is expected to significantly support the creation of jobs in these promising sectors, at a time of economic fragility, much in line with the European Union (EU) and national strategies. Given its strong alignment with EU strategic goals, the initiative is expected to attract significant support from EU institutions.”
The AEP is privately funded but also welcomes public private partnerships and support offered under European and national incentives programmes to maximise its quality reach and impact.
For more information about the Algarve Energy Park, please visit www.algarveenergypark.com