Renewables

Romania’s Hidroelectrica to get concession for Europe’s biggest solar power project – report

Romania Hidroelectrica concession Europe biggest solar power project

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February 10, 2023

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Published:

February 10, 2023

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According to unconfirmed information, government-controlled Hidroelectrica is the most likely candidate for taking over a solar power project of up to 1.5 GW on Romanian state land. The utility is also preparing to build a 300 MW photovoltaic plant with an electrolyzer of 100 MW. Renewable energy projects keep piling up in the country.

In addition to reviving numerous dormant hydropower projects in Romania, Hidroelectrica is working on the diversification of its electricity sources. Late last year, the country declared ten investments of the country’s biggest power producer to be in the national interest, which opened the way to an acceleration in permitting, Ziarul Financiar reported.

The news outlet added that one of the proposed endeavors is the installation of Europe’s biggest solar park, with up to 1.5 GW in capacity, though the government-controlled utility wouldn’t confirm it. State Property Agency (ADS), which is authorized to approve a concession, acknowledged the plan for the photovoltaic facility in December. The investment is estimated at over EUR 1.2 billion, the article reads.

There is a possibility for combining electricity generation with agriculture on the site, though the land is degraded

The site is between Piscul Sadovei and Dăbuleni in the Dolj county in Oltenia, Romania’s main coal hub. It spans 3,000 hectares of grade five, unproductive agricultural land. According to ADS, there is a possibility of using the area for electricity production and agricultural activities at the same time.

Romania is under pressure to meet the deadlines for European grants and cheap loans for energy projects, as they must be completed by 2026. Declaring national interest is also in the context of efforts to pursue energy independence, especially from Russian fossil fuels.

Hidroelectrica proceeding with solar-hydrogen project

Hidroelectrica, Romania’s biggest power producer, is preparing for an initial public offering at the Bucharest Stock Exchange. It launched a project last year for a 300 MW solar power plant with an electrolyzer of 100 MW for the production of green hydrogen. The location is in the central part of the country, at the Olt river.

It was supposed to become a reservoir for a hydropower and irrigation project approved more than three decades ago, but it was scrapped in 2019. Hidroelectrica is currently looking for a contractor for a feasibility study for the Mândra solar power and green hydrogen project.

The company said it may link the electrolyzer to its nearby Voila hydropower plant as a supply backup.

Hidroelectrica is also looking to invest in offshore wind. It already owns Crucea, one of the country’s largest wind parks. The facility is near Constanța in Dobrogea (Dobruja). Hidroelectrica gave up in 2021 on the intended purchase of a 153 MW solar power plant in Argeș county.

Proposed solar power plant in Dolj would be up to 2.5 times bigger than Iberdrola’s Francisco Pizarro

Czech company Rezolv Energy announced in November that it joined a 1.04 GW solar power project developed by Monsson. The site is in Arad in Romania’s west and the company said the construction would begin in June.

German company Profine Energy intends to install a floating solar power plant in Bulgaria with a capacity of 500 MW to 1.5 GW.

Spain-based Iberdrola and its partner Prosolia Energy said just last week that they are developing a 1.2 GW agrisolar project in Portugal. The company already operates the biggest solar park in Europe. The 590 MW Francisco Pizarro facility in Extremadura is in western Spain. It was commissioned in August.

Romania now hosts two photovoltaic projects with an envisaged capacity of at least 1 GW, while there are only two or three more on the entire continent

Spain also hosts the biggest solar power complex, of 750 MW. The system in Aragon consists of 15 units with 50 MW each.

A 1 GW project is under development in France. The construction is underway in the Turkish Konya province, south of Ankara, of a plant with 1.35 GW in nameplate capacity, translating to 1 GW in connection power. The site is in Asia Minor, so geographically it’s outside of Europe.

In Serbia, Fintel energija and MK Group launched the 660 MW Agrosolar Kula project in 2021 for the simultaneous production of agricultural crops and electricity from solar energy. El Sun Energy plans to build a 950 MW solar power plant in Croatia.

The largest completed photovoltaic unit in Southeastern Europe is in northern Greece and belongs to HELLENiQ Energy. It has a capacity of 204.3 MW.

Greek coal and electricity producer Public Power Co., which is undergoing transformation toward renewable sources, is building a 550 MW facility in the same area via its subsidiary PPC Renewables. Enipeas won a strategic investment status on a national level for its solar power project with a planned peak capacity of 700 MW in Thessaly.

Another two photovoltaic projects in pipeline in Romania

As for other major announcements in the sector in Romania, a new consortium called 4P Renewables Alba Iulia requested the environmental permit for a 150 MW solar park with storage. The investment is valued at almost EUR 100 million. It intends to build the facility on 179 hectares of private land near the city of Alba Iulia.

Late last month, Belgian real estate developer Warehouses De Pauw (WDP) said it would invest at least EUR 50 million in photovoltaics on its property. It estimated the available surface at up to 50 hectares.

The company said the solar panels would be set on the roofs of all its warehouses and offices in Romania. In addition, WDP revealed it would install charging stations for cars and electric trucks in the country.

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