The Portuguese government has confirmed to media outlets it will arrange a 1.75GW auction for solar power in June or July, a move meant to drive an exponential surge of the industry within a decade.

João Pedro Matos Fernandes, minister for Environment and the Energy Transition, told Reuters the government will disclose by March or April the terms of an auction that will let smaller developers set a guaranteed price.

Matos Fernandes, part of the socialist government of Portuguese primer António Costa since 2015, said the plan is to “deliberately bet” on promoting the solar industry. Only central Turkey can compare in Europe with the solar potential of the Algarve and Alentejo regions, the minister told the outlet.

The move comes as Portugal works to breathe new life into still-dormant PV sector, which according to government figures only supplied 1.5% of the national energy use in 2018, far behind wind’s and hydro’s (23% each).

The government’s roadmap foresees a tripling of installed capacity from 572MW in 2018 to 1.6GW by 2021. Between that year and 2030, the target soars to a far more ambitious 8.1GW-9.9GW goalpost.

Preparations are already being made to help integrate increasingly prevalent renewables. A €474m grid expansion plan was adopted by energy regulator ERSE last year, while interconnections with the rest of Europe and Morocco are seen by the government as a must-have going forward.

On the ground, in parallel to the government’s work, the appetite for Portuguese PV is steadily rising among foreign investors and developers.

Over the past two years alone, deals have been witnessed including Aquila’s acquisition of a 170MW pipeline, Reden Solar’s purchase of a 50MW portfolio, as well as the takeover by Allianz Capital Partners of a raft of zero-subsidy projects developed by WElink in Portugal and Spain. Developer BayWa r.e. recently told PV Tech it may follow suit, and consider Portuguese opportunities from its new Madrid office.

The success and struggles of Portuguese PV as it embraces the subsidy-free approach will take centre stage at the Large-Scale Solar Europe 2019 conference, set to take place in Lisbon on 26-27 March.

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