Iberdrola has secured environmental approvals to begin construction on the 1,200MW Fernando Pessoa solar project in Santiago do Cacém, near the city of Sines, Portugal.

Fernando Pessoa solar project, named after the Portuguese poet, is claimed to be Europe’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) plant and the fifth largest in the world.

The Spanish power company has already secured land for the project, with plans to complete the construction and start operations in 2025, creating up to 2,500 local jobs.

Once operational, the solar power plant will supply adequate clean, low-cost, locally generated green energy to cover the annual needs of some 430,000 households.

The Fernando Pessoa solar project will avoid 370 million cubic metres of annual gas consumption.

Iberdrola executive chairman Ignacio Galán said: “This solar farm sets a new benchmark in combining Europe’s clean energy ambitions with the delivery of tangible environmental and social benefits.

“We need to reduce our exposure to fossil fuels. We are proud to continue and strengthen our commitment to Portugal with new clean infrastructure across the country, as we did with the Tâmega giga-battery.

“The collaboration of the Portuguese authorities has also been essential in getting this project to this stage in record time.”

Iberdrola has already contracted Portuguese operator REN for grid connection and selected Prosolia Energy as a partner in the project.

The company said that the Fernando Pessoa solar plant will promote the coexistence of new renewable developments with environmental heritage and local communities.

The action plan for the project includes measures such as occupational skills training, developing tourism and providing solar energy to nearby communities.

Furthermore, Iberdrola will carry out a plantation in the surrounding areas of the Fernando Pessoa facility, to restore indigenous tree species.

Iberdrola Renovables Portugal country manager Alejandra Reyna said: “Fernando Pessoa will be a groundbreaking solar farm, on a scale that Europe has never seen before.

“A project of this scale and ambition was unimaginable only a few years ago, but Iberdrola has the technical expertise and the financial strength to make it a reality. We look forward to maintaining our central role in Portugal’s ambitious clean energy future.”