219MW solar plant comes online in Portugal

Riccardo Totta photovoltaic plant. Credit: Solara4

The 219MW Riccardo Totta photovoltaic plant, one of the largest solar power plants operating in Portugal, has been inaugurated.

The plant is located in the parishes of Vaqueiros and Martim Longo in the municipality of Alcoutim and is operated by WElink Energy/Solara4 in partnership with China Triumph International Engineering.

“We have now begun the energising process for Solara4, with its entire 219MW capacity, which will be completed by month’s end”, stated Hugo Paz, WElink Project Director for the Iberian Peninsula.

The solar park occupies an area of 320 hectares, includes 661,500 installed panels that will generate 382GWh of clean energy and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 326 thousand tonnes per year.

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“This public asset that produces electricity on the basis of renewable energy sources, free of emissions, is even more current in light of the current global warming situation”, said Minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes.

Fernandes added: “We are deeply concerned with the increase in the price of gas, a fuel that continues to be a significant source of energy production in Portugal and which contributes to setting the price of electricity. However, we know very well how to stave off high prices: by supporting projects like this one”.

The 170 million euros ($197 million) project created 500 jobs during peak construction and according to Deputy-Mayor Paulo Paulino, “This was the largest investment ever made in the municipality of Alcoutim”.

In order to optimise the system, project stakeholders plan to implement energy storage as a further mechanism to drive down costs.

This is the second-largest unsubsidised photovoltaic project developed by WElink and CTIEC in Portugal, after the completion of the 46MW Ourika solar power plant in 2018.

Hugo Paz, WElink Project Director for the Iberian Peninsula, highlighted: “We can affirm that it has been performing beyond expectation, from an energy point of view. It has been fully integrated into the natural environment and currently preserves the natural habitat of several endogenous species, as confirmed by the recent sighting of an Iberian Lynx at the location.”

Maurizio Totta, son of Riccardo Totta – after whom the power plant is named

The plant was named after the land owner’s father, Riccardo Totta, paying tribute to his work as a mechanical engineer and commemorating the fifth anniversary of his death. Totta graduated at the Technical University of Torino in 1949. Two years later, he began to work at Società Istrumenti Macchine Utensili (SIMU), where he eventually became CEO and majority shareholder in 1965.

Maurizio Totta has been investing in renewables since 2013. He also has projects underway in the Amazon forest in Brazil, always
prioritising sustainability.

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