Unex in Europe's most innovative floating solar power plant

Bandeja 66 Unex en la planta fotovoltaica flotante más innovadora de Europa

The Alqueva floating solar farm was recognised with the European Sustainable Energy Award (EUSEW) 2023, in the Innovation category.

Project: Alqueva floating solar plant (Portugal).

Solution provided: Insulating Cable Tray 66.

Completion year: 2022.  

At Unex, our purpose is to work to guarantee a safer, more humane and more sustainable world.

Therefore, whenever our insulating cable management systems are required in sustainable projects, we are filled with pride.

This was the case with the installation of our insulating Cable Tray 66 with cover on the floating structure of the hybrid solar park of the Alqueva reservoir (Portugal), an emblematic project in the field of large-scale renewable energies in which we had the opportunity to participate. Here, we tell you how.



Technologies that come together

Fotovoltaica flotante más grande de Europa con Bandejas 66 UnexWith more than 12,000 photovoltaic solar panels, 5 MW of power, and a storage capacity of around 2 MWh, the plant currently supplies more than 30% of the population of the Portuguese region of Portel and Moura. And its power is planned to increase further.

The combination of different technologies for energy generation and storage, together with the search for a low environmental impact, is what makes this project stand out. It combines hydropower and photovoltaic technologies for energy production and long-term storage (pumped storage) as well as short-term storage (battery). In addition, it uses the same grid connection point as the Alqueva hydroelectric power plant, which was built 20 years ago. This ensures the preservation of the ecosystem.

This hybrid approach improves plant efficiency by allowing the sharing of infrastructure (such as power lines and electrical substations) while reducing costs and environmental impact.

For all these reasons, the installation was recognised in 2023 with the European Sustainable Energy Award (EUSEW), in the Innovation category, awarded by the European Commission.



Innovation at all levels

Fotovoltaica flotante más grande de Europa con Bandejas 66 UnexThe Alqueva floating solar park was promoted by EDP Renewables, which set the goal of introducing innovation at all levels of the project. Therefore, they wanted to find a more sustainable alternative for the floating structure that supports the solar panels, to reduce the carbon footprint of the plant. The result of this idea was to develop, in collaboration with two engineering companies, a new type of floating structure made of cork and HDPE or recycled plastic.

Thanks to the new material, the weight of the platform was reduced by 15%. In addition, the carbon footprint of producing the floaters was lowered by 30%.

Furthermore, a trunking system needed to be installed for cable management and protection that could withstand environmental conditions – such as corrosion, UV rays, or impacts. Hence, it required products that would maintain their performance over time. That was when they contacted us.


A perfect challenge for Unex

Fotovoltaica flotante más grande de Europa con Bandejas 66 UnexAmong the most important challenges of floating photovoltaics are environmental corrosion and high maintenance costs, as these projects are located in inaccessible places, such as lakes, reservoirs, wetlands, the sea, etc.

Consequently, products for cable protection and cable bundling have to meet very high technical requirements. At Unex we have 45 years of proven experience in outdoor applications. So, when we were asked to install a string cable management system (photovoltaic panels connected in series) at the Alqueva floating plant in 2022, we knew they could count on us. The solution offered was the range of the insulating Cable Tray 66 and covers made of thermoplastic material (U23X). The system provides mechanical protection for the cable and electrical safety for people and installations. Moreover, it also solves the problem of corrosion and UV rays.

With the installation of the insulating Cable Tray 66, costs and concerns are also reduced. Thanks to our in-house-formulated U23X raw material, the installation of our insulating products does not require earthing or maintenance. This makes work easier while avoiding downtime in electricity production, increasing the profitability of the plant, and improving the overall performance.


Specialists since 1964

If you are working in a renewable energy project, you can rely on Unex.

Six decades of manufacturing insulating cable management systems, our experience backs us up. With Unex you not only get quality solutions but also the peace of mind that you are working with real specialists.

You can get an idea of how a floating photovoltaic system looks like with the Insulating Cable Tray 66 installed by watching this video:

If you don't know our material yet, ask for a sample!

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*All images of the Alqueva photovoltaic plant were kindly provided by EDP.

On the Unex blog, we cover a wide range of topics of interest and share experiences from our clients. We remind you that all legal information and information regarding compliance with applicable regulations can be found on our official website. We invite you to consult it for a more comprehensive and accurate understanding.


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