Algarve Energy Park

A unique €350 million project is planned to create a technology demonstration park with facilities spanning the Algarve. This ambitious project will focus on renewable energy production, research, training, ‘edutainment’ and interaction with the general public.

The project to build the Algarve Energy Park (AEP) has been inspired by figures that suggest that by 2030, the world’s energy demand will have grown by 45 per cent, requiring an estimated boost in investment of around US$26 trillion.

With the world still on the path of emitting a third more green house gases within the next 20 years than it is now, renewable energy, which is the fastest growing source of energy, is becoming increasingly important.

As a result, the AEP will include a number of areas which aim to work with academic institutions as well as governmental, industrial and public sectors, especially in renewable energy research.

Within the park, there will be five independent, but complementary project components, each one developed in partnership with one or more partners.

Marc Rechter, Dutch businessman and co-founder of the Algarve Energy Park speaking to The Portugal News earlier this week, explained: “Our current estimate for the full implementation of all components of the Algarve Energy Park is expected to generate an investment of some €350 million.”

The infrastructure for the five components includes energy generation and distribution, a Centre for Sustainable Energy, an Energy Experience Park, a Preventative Health Care Cluster and a Clean Tech Village.

“The receptivity has been excellent both at national and regional level,” said Marc Rechter, adding: “In the Algarve we’ve enjoyed a strong collaboration with the CCDR-Algarve Regional Development and Coordinating Commission, who share our view on the value that the initiative can bring to the Algarve region, and have given us their strong support.”

The AEP, which will be implemented over a period of six to seven years, has so far been privately funded by international investors.

“The several projects of the initiative will be funded through a mix of public and private funding sources, among which will be public incentives available under the European Union’s incentive programmes, designed to support energy efficiency projects,” said Mr. Rechter.

AEP, which aims to be self sufficient energy wise, will feature state of the art energy infrastructures such as photovoltaic, solar thermal, micro wind, bio mass and electric car charge ports, among others.

“Right now, we’re strategically focused on the implementation of the Solar Demonstration Platform, which will allow participating solar technology companies to demonstrate, monitor, test, and market their technologies,” Marc Rechter told The Portugal News.

Solar technology will be the key feature of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems which will be focused on the manufacture, research and development of solar based technology and components.

“If we manage to stay on schedule, we should see the first units producing energy by March 2011,” continued Marc Rechter, adding: “The overall energy production will depend on factors like level of irradiance and efficiency of the different systems. In the first phase, we expect the Solar Demonstration Platform to house upto 17MW of total generating capacity.”

Members of the public will be able to visit the Energy Experience Park, a public facility featuring five ‘worlds’ where visitors interact and learn about new and existing products and services. Visitors will find education, entertainment and shopping experiences in a purpose designed space.

“We believe the Energy Experience Park will also add significantly to Portugal’s image as a sustainable tourist destination, as well as help the country to communicate its leadership in sustainability, energy efficiency and mobility solutions,” said the co-founder of the AEP.

The Preventative Health Clinic will support the emerging demand for personalised medicine and preventive diagnostics, meeting the needs of new approaches to healthcare and advanced genetic testing.

It will involve a personalised genetic medicine approach to genome based diagnostics evolving over time to include cell and gene therapy.

“The international reach of the clinic and its popularity will depend on how successfully designed and streamlined the clinic and its services are. First customers will be early adaptors of the new healthcare approach.”

Mr. Rechter adds: “The Algarve region can offer a lot to sustain the concept such as qualified medical personnel, organic agriculture, and active lifestyle opportunities.”

Finally, the Clean Tech Village will function in support of activities within the other components of the AEP. This component will likely include short term and permanent residential units, to accommodate the Preventive Health Care out-patient care, as well as visiting researchers and specialists working at the park on a temporary basis.

Once up and running, the initiative is expected to generate around 2,000 direct and indirect jobs. “It’s difficult at this point to pinpoint a precise number, which will also depend on the number of participants that join the initiative,” he said.

The Algarve Energy Park itself will span a number of locations throughout the Algarve region.

“East Algarve for the Solar DEMO Platform, neighbouring the Algarve Motor Park for the Research and Development Centre and potentially another location for another one of the components of the development,” said Mark Rechter.

He added: “We are continuously looking to and are already collaborating with a number of entities and institutions in the Algarve. The Algarve Motor Park is yet another entity with which we would like to collaborate in the future, as is the case with many other companies in the region.”

Meanwhile, an €800,000 project is also underway at the Algarve Motor Park to install more than 500 solar panels, each with a 200W output capacity.

According to Paulo Pinheiro, CEO of Parkalgar, the solar panels are located near the future hotel and apartment blocks on the northern part of the site.

This environmentally friendly energy production initiative is being carried out by Parkalgar, which manages the Motor Park, in partnership with a new branch of the Galp petroleum and energy company called Galp Soluções de Energia.

The cost of the project is being split evenly between both partners, with Galp also supplying the know-how and maintenance of the solar system.

Aside from the solar panels themselves, all other components used to build the site have all been made in Portugal.

This solar panel initiative, which started in August is due to be completed by the end of the year, when the energy will be sold to the national grid. The expected output of energy is estimated at 156MW per year.

As well as this solar farm, Parkalgar also has a number of other green initiatives in an effort to make the race track site carbon neutral.

“Solar energy is used to heat tap water for the race and kart tracks, while the landscaped areas are watered using treated waste water,” said Paulo Pinheiro.



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