€1.5bn hydro power investment for Portugal’s Douro region

Northern Portugal is set to receive a major economic boost with the announcement of a €1.5bn hydro project for the Douro Valley.

The Douro Valley (Credit: Aires Almeida via CC)

Spanish utility Iberdola is building three new dams and power plants in the region, including a pumped storage facility. The plants will be located on the Tâmega and the Torno rivers, tributaries of the larger Douro, which rises in Spain and flows across northern Portugal to the Atlantic Ocean. Iberdola, the parent company of Scottish Power, said the new infrastructure will have a total capacity of 1,158MW and will start operating in 2023.

“The development of the Tâmega hydro power scheme involves three of Iberdrola’s core strategic undertakings,” said Ignacio Galán, chairman and CEO of Iberdola. “Investing in clean generation capacity, the development of new storage capacity – with pumped hydro being the only technology to store large amounts of energy efficiently – and sustainable financing. 23 per cent of our financing is already green, which highlights our commitment to sustainable development.”

The three dams (Alto Tâmega, Daivões and Gouvães) are expected to provide an average of 1,760GWh per year to the Iberian market. Up to 13,500 jobs will be created during the construction phase, with several hundred permanent jobs expected to be sustained by the plants’ operation. The deal, announced in Madrid earlier this week, will be supported with €650m of funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Emma Navarro and Ignacio Galan

“This agreement represents a new step towards the implementation of the EU energy policy and climate action objectives,” said EIB vice-president, Emma Navarro. “This EIB financing will support the increase of renewable generation in the Portuguese energy mix and will contribute to a sustainable and secure supply of energy. The EIB, which stands ready to step in to finance sound projects that meet our criteria and respond to EU energy policies, is particularly committed to financing green energy projects across the Union.”