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Portuguese irrigators propose to create a pilot project of solar energy communities in collective irrigation

Solar energy communities are made up of a group of consumers who, through a shared installation, produce part or all of the electricity they consume, through renewable resources, reducing the cost.

6/23/2021

Photovoltaic installation of Abroxo, in Portugal.

FENAREG proposes to Portuguese Government to proceed with a pilot project of solar energy communities in collective irrigation, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and energy costs in the distribution of water to agriculture.

The Federation's proposal follows the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture, Maria do Céu Antunes, that it intends to implement solar energy communities in the agricultural sector, referring to the very important role of collective irrigation systems in these structures.

Solar energy communities are made up of a group of consumers who, through a shared installation, produce part or all of the electricity they consume, through renewable resources, reducing electricity costs.

In the model that FENAREG is studying, the irrigation associations will function as producers and distributors of clean energy for farmers and the local community (agribusiness, municipalities, etc.), especially in the winter period, when energy needs for irrigation are reduced. .

In this sense, the Federation appeals to the Government for the measure "Installation of Photovoltaic Panels - Next Generation" to cover collective irrigation and irrigation associations, through a dedicated announcement in operation 3.4.2 of PDR2020. This support is essential for the implementation of solar energy communities in collective irrigation, benefiting farmers and the environment.

“We supply water to 40% of the irrigated area in Portugal - 240,000 hectares - and we bear extremely high energy costs - 390 GWh / year - which represent 75% of the cost of the water supply service. Therefore, it is fair that irrigation associations are included in supporting the installation of clean energies, thus being able to fulfill their role in the collective effort to achieve carbon neutrality in the EU by 2050 ”, says José Núncio, president of FENAREG.

Irrigation energy sustainability is a priority for irrigation associations. A survey carried out by the Federation estimates the investment intentions of its associates in photoelectric production at 2.5 million euros (18 units, 2.3 GWp of production power).

The Association of Beneficiaries of Roxo-ABROXO, the association of irrigators that installed a photoelectric production plant, reveals encouraging results of the investment made: «in 2020 we managed to produce 15% of the energy we consume from renewable sources, with a saving 55 thousand euros in the annual electricity bill ”, reveals António Parreira, president of ABROXO. The photoelectric plant supplies the Montes Velhos (Aljustrel) pumping station.

On the other hand, the Federation welcomes the reintroduction of support for green electricity, but argues that the measure should be studied together with the sector to respond effectively to the needs of farmers. Until now, the level of implementation of the measure and the amount of support allocated to green electricity in 2020 is unknown.

The regents also ask the government to implement seasonal electricity contracts for agriculture, as is already the case in Spain. It is essential that Portuguese farmers benefit from the same conditions as their counterparts in other EU Member States, while maintaining the necessary competitiveness on the global agricultural market.

FENAREG

FENAREG is a non-profit national public utility association, founded in 2005, which groups together entities dedicated to the management of water for irrigation, both surface and underground, with the aim of joining efforts and will in defense of their legitimate interests and in promoting sustainable development and competitiveness of irrigation. It currently has 30 members who represent more than 27 thousand irrigating farmers, which means more than 95% of the national organized irrigation.


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