The Larga Vista arch
The Larga Vista arch

Silves solar farm developer says it has done everything by the book

Neoen is beginning construction of a massive solar farm in Silves

Neoen, the company behind the project to build a massive solar farm in Silves which has led local residents to file a lawsuit against it, has released a statement guaranteeing that it has done everything by the book.

According to the company, the project underwent a public consultation procedure in June 2018 in which the Residents Association of Larga Vista, Foral participated by pitching several proposals, “some of which were integrated into the project” by the Algarve’s regional development and coordination commission (CCDR Algarve) and which “will be respected.”

The statement adds that a meeting also took place between Neoen and representatives of the association at the Algoz parish council on July 26, 2023, after which the association was “invited twice by the Urban Planning Department of Silves Municipal Council (September 15 and October 13, 2023) to attend project clarification sessions with Neoen”. Says the company, “no representative from the association turned up” for either of the meetings.

Neon also states that the licensing of the solar farm followed an environmental impact assessment coordinated by CCDR Algarve.

A Conditional Environmental Impact Declaration was issued, which complies with the legal framework, including the National Ecological Reserve (REN) legislation, which allows the use of the area for renewable energy production,” says the developer.

Neon’s statement also provides further information about the project, which will “cover a total area of 96 hectares, with an intervention area of 76 hectares.

Green corridors, approximately 20 meters wide, will be integrated to connect biodiversity and enhance the landscape. The current project layout includes an ecological corridor in the southern sector, using native tree and shrub barriers to ensure visual integration and a minimum distance of over 60 meters between the solar panels and residences,” the company explains.

It adds that the solar panel support structures will have “reduced metal profiles with a 6.5-meter spacing between rows,” a type of design which Neoen says which provide “space for diverse vegetation, promoting water infiltration, and facilitating the co-existence of green energy production with potential grazing and beekeeping activities.”

On a closing note, Neoen states that “technological advancements will reduce the number of solar panels to approximately 75,000 (25% less than initially planned), generating over 94,000 MWh of green energy annually (30% more than anticipated).”

It adds: “This energy output is equivalent to the yearly consumption of 28,000 households, avoiding the emission of 46,000 tons of CO2 compared to fossil fuel-based energy production.”

By Michael Bruxo

[email protected]