WElink Energy has started construction of a 221MW solar PV plant in Portugal that will not benefit from subsidies.

The Solara4 project, located in Vaqueiros, southern Portugal. will be the largest unsubsidised solar PV plant in Europe, the company claimed. The project is of major significance to the European industry given the widespread winding down of subsidies over recent years. Only 15 months ago, Portugal’s renewables association had said solar cannot work without financial support in the market conditions of that time.

Back in the summer, Lisbon-based solar firm Prosolia Energy also started construction on a 46MW solar PV project without subsidies in Grandaços, the municipality of Ourique, southern Portugal.

The new 221MW project will generate power for the equivalent of 150,000 homes. WElink’s longstanding partner China Triumph International Engineering Co. Ltd (CTIEC) was signed up as EPC contractor earlier this year. It’s worth noting that, at the time of the signing, WElink had said construction was expected to start in Q1 this year, so there has been some delay.

WElink claimed that it will be able to deliver the project without subsidies due to the increasing competitiveness of PV generation and the two firms’ ability to optimise costs. The southern location in Portugal also boasts excellent irradiation levels.

Solara4 will include 850,000 solar modules and is expected to employ around 300 people during construction. The project is expected to be grid-connected by mid-2019.

WElink Group’s chief executive, Barry O’Neill said: “We are delighted to be in a position to commence construction on our flagship Solara4 project, demonstrating that industrial scale clean-energy can be profitable without government subsidies and is a mature technology.”

WElink Energy head of development for Iberia Eduardo Aguilar added: “The construction of Solara4 is the result of many months of great team work to deliver this internationally significant unsubsidised project in Portugal.  We are excited about both the delivery of this project as well as the additional opportunities Iberia represents.”

The company is also looking at further opportunities on the Iberan peninsula with more announcements expected soon.

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