Spared from the ravages of COVID-19 suffered by her neighbor Spain, Portugal is aiming to leap, rather than tip-toe, out of their lockdown initiatives by launching a series of clean energy projects that could generate 5.5 billion euro in European energy investment.
The new solar-powered hydrogen plant near the port of Sines is a modern “green” hydro-electric project that generates electricity through a process called electrolysis, and it could contribute 1 gigawatt of power by 2023 if investment arrives.
“The economy cannot grow along the lines of the past and our post-coronavirus vision is to create wealth from projects that reduce carbon emissions and promote energy transition and sustainable mobility,” Portugal’s Minister of Environment and Energy Transition, Joao Matos Fernandes, told Reuters.
Fernandes detailed that both Portuguese energy firms, and Dutch firms are already showing interest in the hydrogen plant, and it is shaping up to be one of the biggest industrial projects and opportunities in the country.
Matos also said that Portugal will be launching a solar energy licensing auction, where international energy firms will have a chance to bid for prime solar real estate, as Portugal is one of Europe’s sunniest nations.
Initially scheduled to kick off in April, the auctions were delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has taken the lives of fewer than 1,000 Portuguese, out of 24,500 confirmed cases according to Reuters. Up for bidding are 16 sites worth a combined total of 700 megawatts of solar capacity in the southern regions of Algarve and Alentejo.
Portugal has had previous success with energy licensing auctions before, like last June when she sold 1,150 MW of solar energy capacity at a record-low price of 14.8 megawatts per hour—mainly to international energy investors from Britain, Spain, France, and Germany.
Already in 2016, 28% of nationwide power came from renewables. During that year they set a European record for entirely powering the country with renewables for four straight days.
Though just 11 years ago, Portugal was generating more CO2 than Bangladesh, despite having one-sixteenth the population density, their plans for 2030 are to be producing 7,000 MW per hour of clean energy and close to all their remaining coal plants.
Meanwhile, in Germany a string of recent sunny days in April led to record-setting clean-energy production. The solar power was generating around 40% nationwide, with all their renewables together accounting for a whopping 78%—while coal and nuclear less than a quarter.
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