Spain-based Iberdola has secured an environmental license from the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) to build a photovoltaic plant in Santiago do Cacém in Portugal. The company claims that it’s set to be Europe’s biggest solar farm and the fifth largest in the world.
The solar farm, named after the poet Fernando Pessoa, will start operation in 2025 and will have an installed capacity of 1,200MW. According to Iberdola, it’ll be able to generate enough green energy to cover the needs of around 430,000 homes — equivalent to a population twice the size of the city of Porto. The facility is also estimated to save 370 million cubic metres of gas consumption each year.
To realise this ambitious project, Iberdola is working together with Prosolia Energy, while Portuguese operator REN will be responsible for grid connection.
Notably, the solar plant aims to boost the sustainability of the local ecosystem as well. Apart from the creation of approximately 2,500 jobs, it seeks to provide occupational skills training, improve tourism in the area, and supply solar energy to nearby communities.
The land where the facility will be built will also work as a space for sheep grazing and beehive introduction, while indigenous tree species will be planted in the surrounding area.
“This solar farm sets a new benchmark in combining Europe’s clean energy ambitions with the delivery of tangible environmental and social benefits. We need to reduce our exposure to fossil fuels,” Iberdrola’s Executive Chairman, Ignacio Galán, said in a statement. “We are proud to continue and strengthen our commitment to Portugal with new clean infrastructure across the country […]. The collaboration of the Portuguese authorities has also been essential in getting this project to this stage in record time.”
The company has already completed three solar farms in Portugal and will start construction of three more in 2023, while an additional one will come on stream in 2024.
If initiatives like these continue across Europe, the EU may just get closer to its aim of producing 320GW of solar power by 2025 and almost 600GW by 2030.