Iberdrola’s 880MW pumped hydro plant in Portugal to go online in mid-2022

By Cameron Murray
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Water will come down into Gouvães reservoir (pictured), from Daivões reservoir 650 metres above it. Image: Iberdrola.

Iberdrola expects its 880MW pumped hydro plant at the Tâmega energy storage complex in northern Portugal to become fully operational in the middle of this year. 

It has just connected the first of four 220-MW turbines at the Gouvães hydroelectric power plant, which will provide 880MW of pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) alongside two run-of-river hydroelectric plants which bring the complex’s total hydoelectric power to 1,158MW. Gouvães and one other will go online in mid-2022 while a third will start in mid-2024. 

The Gouvães plant will increase Portugal’s pumped hydro power by 30% from where it is today. 

The Tâmega energy storage complex is being built on the Tâmega river with €1.5 billion (US$1.69 billion) of investment by Iberdrola, with the help of a €650 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

It will be able to produce 1,766 GWh per year and will be a hybrid plant with two attached wind farms totalling 300MW. The wind power will partially be used to drive the water back up to the Gouvães reservoir, as well as being fed into the grid. 

The Gouvães plant ranks as one of the larger pumped hydro projects of recent years.

It is the same size as a recently proposed 900MW project in Wyoming, US, and a bit smaller than India’s 1.2GW project in Andra Pradesh. The latter will be combined with 2GW of solar and 400MW of wind power, awarded to developer Greenko through a competitive tender process, recorded as the lowest priced renewables-plus-storage project in the world when it was approved in 2018.

Australia’s first new pumped hydro project in nearly 40 years is 250MW and currently under construction. Elsewhere a 500MW project in California and a 450MW project in Scotland are at different stages of gaining approval

Tâmega will provide around half the pumped hydro power of the largest existing pumped hydro plant in Europe, the 1,780MW Cortes-La Muela in Valencia, Spain, which was built in the 80s.

Workers in tunnels at the Tâmega complex. Image: Iberdrola

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