Portugal, one of the most oil-dependent nations in Europe, will begin work on the world's biggest solar energy power station next year, officials said Tuesday.
The plant will have 350,000 solar panels spread over 114 hectaresacres) near the southern town of Moura and will be able to produce 62 megawatts, more than six times the largest existing solar power station in Germany.
"The construction of the station will begin in 2006, it is irreversible," Moura mayor Jose Maria Pos-de-Mina was quoted as saying by Lusa news agency.
The plant is expected to be completed in 2009 and will have a total cost of 250 million euros (307 million dollars).
It will be built by BP Solar, a unit of energy giant BP, and it is expected to create 240 permanent jobs in the southern province of Alentejo, one of Europe's poorest regions.
"This is a unique project and the world's most ambitious in terms of final capacity," said BP Solar commercial director for southern Europe, Francisco Conesa, according to Lusa.
Southern Portugal's thinly populated Alentejo region has been identified as one of Europe's most promising regions for solar energy.
The town of Moura owns the majority of the firm which will oversee the solar power station project, Amper Central Solar.
Under the United Nations Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty on global warming which Lisbon has signed, Portugal must generate 39 percent of its electricity needs through renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
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