Braga is the oldest city in Portugal, with a history stretching back over 2000 years. The city’s Archdiocese dates all the way back to 1070, and it has played a central role in community life since then through religious and social services to citizens.
But like any large organization with multiple properties, energy costs are a significant overhead. Money spent on electricity bills at Braga cathedral, local churches and administrative buildings cannot go towards providing for the spiritual needs of congregants and the wider community.
Yet despite its age, the Archdiocese kept a keen eye on the future in its search for innovative solutions. With the aims of lowering costs, improving sustainability and combatting energy poverty among disadvantaged families in the local area, the organization contacted Cleanwatts.
Ultimately, the Archdiocese decided to establish a Renewable Energy Community (REC), with photovoltaic plants distributed among buildings of the Archdiocese, in Braga and Vila Real.
“The costs of installing the 2,100 photovoltaic panels, which cost around one million euros, are fully borne by Cleanwatts (…). In addition to providing the Archdiocese with clean energy, this project will make it possible to produce enough energy for the Community to provide energy to 650 disadvantaged families.”
In partnership with Cleanwatts, the Archdiocese of Braga chose to install a 1.2MWp photovoltaic plant consisting of 2,100 solar panels across several buildings, including the Archiepiscopal Palace, the Seminary of Our Lady of the Conception, the Conciliar Seminary, a former seminary building and the John Paul II Cooperative laundry. Cleanwatts fully financed the project, and will handle the installation, and management of the community.
The PV panels will supply clean electricity for the buildings, which will be managed through Cleanwatts® OS. This operating system combines the benefits of energy efficiency processes alongside the management of distributed energy assets to maximize the value of the energy produced and consumed in the community.
The OS is supported by a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) solution that enables the aggregation of a wide range of power loads to enable grid balancing services and flexibility through integration into distribution networks. This simple and flexible solution processes and optimizes all energy needs in real time, both at the points of consumption and in the distribution network itself.
By establishing this REC the Archdiocese of Braga will achieve a reduction of about 50% in energy consumption costs, (average discount compared to the estimated tariff for grid energy). It will also become carbon positive, generating 27% more energy than it consumes, while establishing far greater energy independence, 45% of the energy consumed comes from the solar plant (self-consumption).
What’s more, the energy community will also support around 650 650 disadvantaged families who will benefit from a community social tariff of only 13c/kWh, around 30% less than the current market tariffs.