"In recent years we have been garnering not only national but international notoriety. The Windfloat Atlantic project [the first floating wind farm in continental Europe, costing 125 million Euros, installed 20 kilometres off Viana do Castelo, by the Windplus consortium] gave us that notoriety, but also a variety of other projects, such as wave energy production, floating photovoltaic energy production platforms. We are starting to have a very interesting portfolio," socialist José Maria Costa told Portuguese news agency Lusa.
The mayor, who was speaking about the international conference on renewable energy in the capital of Alto Minho, said that the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) gave the county "the opportunity, by 2026, to have an International Test Centre for Offshore Energy operational and at the service not only for companies, but also to be a huge knowledge repository for universities, polytechnics, research laboratories.
According to José Maria Costa, that infrastructure will respond to the "various investment intentions of 'players' linked to renewable energy production, with projects that could reach up to one billion Euros".
"We have had many contacts with large companies linked to the energy sector that know the enormous potential in offshore wind energy and are interested in new investment projects," he said.
"These are good prospects. If the intentions of investment on the Portuguese coast, and in particular on the coast of Viana do Castelo, come to fruition, many jobs may be created by investing in the metal-mechanics industry, in shipbuilding, in support service vessels, among other areas," he specified.
For José Maria Costa, "there is a whole chain associated to oceanic renewable energies that may generate a lot of employment and economic activity and a great involvement of the national scientific system".
"The change of energy paradigm, of decarbonisation, of renewable energy production, eventually even associated to the production of green hydrogen, is a very important bet and in which Viana do Castelo is playing an important role in creating the conditions for this International Offshore Energy Test Centre to be established here, also supporting our scientific community".
The socialist mayor said that the number of jobs to be created with the planned investments and with the creation of this international centre "will depend a lot on the collaborative processes, on the protocols between the various universities and research laboratories".
As an example he pointed to the Atlantis project, promoted by the consortium comprising the Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers, Technology and Science (INESC TEC), EDP (NEW - Centre for New Energy Technologies) and eight other partners from five countries, which provides for an investment of 8.5 million Euros over three years to create the first European centre to test robots in floating wind farms in Viana do Castelo.
"This project employs about 40 people," he said, adding that the future International Offshore Energy Testing Centre "may have up to a hundred workers in various fields.
"Not only directly linked to renewable energy, but to other research projects as there will be floating platforms on the coast of Viana do Castelo, and other studies linked to biodiversity, among other research areas," he added.
He also noted that "the establishment of an International Offshore Energy Test Centre in Viana do Castelo will be an enormous potential for the scientific community, but also for the country and a reference space at a European level".