Portugal has increased its ambitions for offshore wind energy and has sharply raised its target for a first auction of offshore floating windfarm licenses, Environment Minister Duarte Cordeiro told Reuters on Tuesday.
Cordeiro said the sale, due to take place by the end of the year, will target a total installed capacity of between 2 and 3.5 gigawatts (GW), compared with a target of around 1 GW for the auction set by the government in May.
Cordeiro said several projects were lining up to compete in the auction.
"We are still working to define the economic model behind this first auction and there is a decision we will have to make: whether we go ahead with at least 2 GW, or with 3.5 GW," he said.
The minister said the 2 GW target of installed capacity in operation by 2030, that Portugal put in the blueprint of its energy and climate goals sent to Brussels this month, was "a prudent, conservative estimate".
A government-appointed working group in the meantime proposed last week that a capacity of up to 3.5 GW could be initially targeted in three areas off the country's Atlantic coast given the interest it is attracting, he added.
Other utilities have also shown interest in such projects in Portugal, including Germany's BayWa, the Irish-Spanish consortium IberBlue Wind, fund manager Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, and a partnership between Portuguese oil company Galp and France's TotalEnergies TTEF.PA.
The floating wind farms will be installed in deep waters where winds are stronger and more continuous, allowing the generation of more power than those fixed to the seabed near to shore or those on land.
Portugal plans to launch successive auctions for a total of 10 GW until 2030.
(Reuters - Reporting by Sérgio Gonçalves; Editing by Andrei Khalip and David Holmes)