The world’s first-ever power plant combining hydro and solar power has opened in Portugal, marking a milestone renewable energy advancement.
The Alto Rabagão dam in Montalegre has been equipped with 840 floating solar panels, which increases the plant’s peak capacity by 220 kilowatts, according to a press release from Ciel & Terre (C&T), the developers of the panels. The power station is expected to generate 332-megawatt hours within its first year, which is enough to power 100 homes for a year.
If the dam project is successful, it could be used to meet electricity demands in other countries, such as Brazil, which is projected to see demand more than triple by the year 2050, reports the Huffington Post. The utility behind the project, Energias de Portugal (EDP), conducts a large-scale business in the South American country.
“It has all the ingredients to succeed, a solution of this kind,” EDP project manager Paulo Pinto told the Diário de Notícias.
C&T developed the panels as part of its patented floating solar system Hydrelio, according to the company’s website. Its technology allows the floating photovoltaic (FPV) panels to be installed on large bodies or water instead of being ground-mounted and taking up land.
Additionally, the panels are ecologically friendly. They are made out of recyclable materials and help reduce water evaporation, slow algae growth by shielding the water and reduce erosion of the reservoirs’ banks by reducing waves within it.
The FPV panels’ main purpose is to generate energy while on an artificial, unused body of water, according to the release. Installing them on dams allows more energy to be generated and makes the plants even more profitable, as the panels can collect sunlight for energy during the day and save hydropower to use during the evening and peak demand times.
Currently, it is estimated that 400 gigawatts (GW) of solar electricity can be produced if 10 percent of the world’s 50 largest dams are covered with panels, states the release.
The Alto Rabagão was first opened in 1964 and has a power capacity of 68 MW without the panels. Its water reaches a depth of almost 200 feet.
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