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Working group to identify new sources of financing for water infrastructure, says Minister of Environment and Energy

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The task force that will define the national water strategy has the mission of identifying new financing to allow investment in the modernization and creation of new infrastructures, announced the Minister of Environment and Energy on Wednesday.

This strategy has as one of its main results – and this was requested in the order to the two ministers – the ID “new funding for water infrastructure,” said Maria da Graça Carvalho, speaking at the Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Energy.

In June, the Government created this working group to outline the country’s strategy for efficient water management, storage and distribution.

Before the deputies, the minister warned that the country needs new investments in this area, taking into account the financing it has available, including the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), which “There is very little water“.

According to Maria da Graça Carvalho, the working group, led by the president of the Águas de Portugal GroupAntónio Carmona Rodrigues will identify new sources of financing, which may involve recourse to the European Investment Bank (EIB).

At this ordinary hearing, on the day that marks 100 days of governance, the Minister of the Environment also stressed that she is working intensively on relations with Spain in the area of ​​water, having already met on three occasions with her Spanish counterpart on this matter.

These meetings, combined with the joint work carried out by competent authorities from both countries, resulted in an agreement in principle, which the Government hopes to formalise at the Luso-Spanish Summit next autumn, said Maria da Graça Carvalho.

This understanding contemplates the management and exploitation of the flow regime in the Baixo Guadiana and the Tagus and also translates, in the case of Pomarão, into the principle of equity in terms of the volumes of water captured, on both sides of the border.

Desalination is the last solution, but we must prepare for the future in the face of water scarcity.

The Minister of Environment and Energy also considered the construction of a desalination plant in the Algarve as a last resort, but stressed the need to prepare for the future in the face of the permanent water shortage in the region.

The fact is that in this situation we have to take care of the future and equipment like this takes time to be built and it is from this perspective that we are continuing with the project, which has been in the works for a long time, of the Algarve desalination plant,” said Maria da Graça Carvalho, heard in the parliamentary commission on Environment and Energy.

In her response to the deputies, the official said that this type of equipment should be the “last solution”, listing the priorities in this matter: saving water, having less losses, reusing water, taking advantage of the existing infrastructure and increasing the existing capacity.

And only if all this is not enough should we resort to some type of desalination plant.“for several reasons,” said Maria da Graça Carvalho, pointing out the environmental impacts inherent to this equipment, as well as its high cost, which “someone has to pay.”

Even with water savings of between 10% and 20% in recent months, the Algarve “is already in a regime of permanent water shortage“, stressed the Minister of the Environment, adding that Spain has around 700 of these devices, but “not all of them work well”, while Malta solved its water shortage problem with this solution.

The construction of a desalination plant in the municipality of Albufeira, whose base value is 90 million euros, is one of the response to the drought affecting the southern region of Portugaland the equipment is expected to have an initial capacity of converting seawater into drinking water of 16 cubic hectometres.

According to Águas do Algarve, the company responsible for water supply in the region, in charge of managing infrastructure such as dams or wastewater treatment plants, the works will be completed in end of 2026.

Recently, a platform that brings together environmental associations initiated legal proceedings before the Public Prosecutor’s Office, requesting the invalidation of the Environmental Impact Statement in favour of the construction of a desalination plant in the Algarve.

The review of the Energy and Climate Plan is about to be finalised

During the same parliamentary commission on Environment and Energy, Maria da Graça Carvalho assured that the review of the National Energy and Climate Plan 2030 (PNEC 2030) is about to be finalised, a new strategy that she considered essential for the decarbonisation of Portugal.

This plan is fundamental “to guide our decarbonisation path,” said Maria da Graça Carvalho, heard before the parliamentary committee on the Environment and Energy.

The document will be submitted for public consultation and will also be submitted to the Assembly of the Republic, which will have to give its opinion on this energy and climate policy instrument.

We hope for your collaboration so that it can be later relatively fast this assessment so that our 2030 Energy and Climate Plan can be presented to the European Commission,” said the Minister.

After ensuring that the Government is “strongly committed to the application of the Climate Base Law”, Maria da Graça Carvalho also added that, in the review of the PNEC, it was possible Raise the target for the weight of renewable energies in gross final energy consumption from 47% to 51%a value that the European Commission had requested from Portugal.

Speaking to the deputies, the minister said that the Mission Structure for the Licensing of Renewable Energy Projects 2030, recently launched and provided for in the PRR, has the mission of “facilitating and simplifying” the processes in this area.

We intend that Don’t just focus on licensing renewable energy processesBut this looks at all the licenses in the area of ​​energy and the environment, so it is faster, but still demanding,” said Maria da Graça Carvalho.

The government is hoping that developers will not need to contact many institutions, said the minister, who said she knows a developer who had to interact and provide data to 14 public administration entities.

Source: Observadora

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