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EDP, Amorim Cork Composites and Isigenere create cork floater for solar park

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EDP launched the challenge: to create a more sustainable floater for the more than 11 thousand panels and 25 thousand floaters that make up the structure of the future floating solar park in the Alqueva reservoir. After intensive work in collaboration with Corticeira Amorim and the Spanish manufacturer Isigenere, over more than 12 months, it was possible to develop an innovative material, based on a new cork composite, which will be tested for the first time in a renewable energy production project.

This new solution combines cork – a 100% natural, recyclable and biocompatible raw material – with recycled polymers and was developed at i.Cork factory, the pilot plant and innovation hub of Amorim Cork Composites. Isigenere, one of the most innovative international companies in the development of floating solar systems and creator of the Isifloating system, also contributed to the creation of this new technology.

In addition to incorporating cork, the new photovoltaic floater made with this new composite will also replace part of the virgin plastic used in conventional floaters with recycled plastic. EDP believes that, with this more sustainable combination, the floating solar project can achieve a reduction of at least 30% of the CO2 footprint. A Life Cycle Assessment will be prepared to validate this reduction in the CO2 footprint and to analyze more ambitious goals in the future.

 

“Cork has been used in the energy market for a long time, but its potential is now more evident than ever. From solar energy and wind energy, to electric mobility, the ambition is, in the medium term, to make this sector one of the main pillars of growth for Corticeira Amorim in the area of composite materials,” says António Rios de Amorim. The president and CEO of Corticeira Amorim praises cork for its CO2 removal capacity and emphasizes “the natural technical characteristics of this material. Resistance to extreme temperatures, chemical compatibility, resilience, anti-vibration properties and low thermal conductivity are attributes that enhance the potential of this raw material in numerous applications in this sector.”

 

 

An (even more) sustainable solar

The main properties of cork – such as impermeability, lightness, elasticity, compressibility and resilience - remain unchanged, ensuring the floater's performance. It should also be noted that, for each ton of cork produced, the cork oak forest can sequester up to 73 tons of CO2. This factor reduces the environmental impact of any solution where cork is applied.

The fact that this photovoltaic floater uses recycled polymers also reinforces Corticeira Amorim's position in terms of sustainability by putting into action the principles of circular economy. By reusing these materials, the company avoids their disposal in landfills, reduces the need to extract virgin raw materials and mitigates the exhaustion of the planet's resources.

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