EDP, Corticeira & Isigenere Create Cork Floater for Solar Park
EDP's solar energy project will include floaters that mix cork with recycled polymers, with the ambition of achieving a neutral carbon footprint. This innovation was developed in partnership with Corticeira Amorim and Isigenere. EDP launched the challenge: to create a more sustainable floater for the more than 11 thousand panels and 25 thousand floaters that make up the structure of the future floating solar park in the Alqueva reservoir. After intensive work in collaboration with Corticeira Amorim and the Spanish manufacturer Isigenere, over more than 12 months, it was possible to develop an innovative material, based on a new cork composite, which will be tested for the first time in a renewable energy production project.
This new solution combines cork – a 100% natural, recyclable and biocompatible raw material – with recycled polymers and was developed at i.Cork factory, the pilot plant and innovation hub of Amorim Cork Composites, the composite agglomerates unit of Corticeira Amorim, a Portuguese company that is the largest cork processing group in the world. Isigenere, one of the most innovative international companies in the development of floating solar systems and creator of the Isifloating system, also contributed to the creation of this new technology.
In addition to incorporating cork, the new photovoltaic floater made with this new composite will also replace part of the virgin plastic used in conventional floaters with recycled plastic. EDP believes that, with this more sustainable combination, the floating solar project can achieve a reduction of at least 30% of the CO2 footprint.
The main properties of cork – such as impermeability, lightness, elasticity, compressibility and resilience - remain unchanged, ensuring the floater's performance. It should also be noted that, for each ton of cork produced, the cork oak forest can sequester up to 73 tons of CO2. This factor reduces the environmental impact of any solution where cork is applied.
The fact that this photovoltaic floater uses recycled polymers also reinforces Corticeira Amorim's position in terms of sustainability by putting into action the principles of circular economy. By reusing these materials, the company avoids their disposal in landfills, reduces the need to extract virgin raw materials and mitigates the exhaustion of the planet's resources.
With more than 11 thousand photovoltaic panels and 25 thousand floaters that occupy four hectares in the Alqueva reservoir, next to the dam, this park is one of EDP's most innovative solar energy projects. Works will start in the summer and, by the end of this year, it may already be producing energy. With an annual production capacity of 7.5 GWh, the expectation is that it will supply the equivalent of 25% of the consumers in the region (Portel and Moura).