The AURORA project in the University of Évora…

The University of Évora has not yet set any climate targets. However, the university has a long tradition in researching solar energy. For example, 9 years ago the university established one of the first bachelor’s degree programmes in Renewable Energy Engineering, later followed by a master’s programme. Soon there will be a doctoral programme Mechatronic and Energy. The Chair of Solar Energy has built up a large research infrastructure for photovoltaics and solar thermal energy.

The university is divided into two campuses. One is located in the historic centre of Évora, the other about 10 kilometres outside. This second campus is supplied with electricity by three energy suppliers via three transformer stations. The supply has a significant imbalance, meaning that the energy is not delivered where it is consumed. For example, most of the buildings are supplied via a transformer to which only a small photovoltaic system is connected. On the other hand, there is a solar thermal power plant, but there is hardly any consumption. The idea is to set up an energy community that distributes renewable energy better across the campus via the public grid and with zero-emissions.

The demonstrator power plant in the AURORA project is operated by this Energy Community and is intended to make an important contribution to the energy balance on campus. A photovoltaic power plant with a capacity of 200 KW is planned, which is about one fifth of the maximum power currently required on campus. An area of 280 hectares is freely available on campus for the construction of the AURORA solar power plant, and only a fraction of a hectare is needed for it.

The power plant is to be financed by 1500 citizens, mainly students and employees of the university, who will participate with shares between 20 and 1000€.

When AURORA and its energy community is totally functional with first results to be published, the demonstrator could motivate other citizens to create and join a renewable energy community. These communities could have a big potential in remote areas with difficult access to the public grid, as some places in the Alentejo region.

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