Alcoutim moving towards a more sustainable and inclusive future

Galp's first large-scale solar power complex, built in Alcoutim in the Algarve region, has set the tone for a sustainable mobility and social inclusion project that is making a difference in the community

Galp's first large-scale solar power complex in Portugal is located in the municipality of Alcoutim, in the Algarve, on the banks of the river Guadiana. The 250,000-plus photovoltaic panels, installed along the road between Vaqueiros and Martim Longo at four plants on around 250 hectares of land (the equivalent of 350 football pitches), are part of the landscape and stretch out beyond the horizon.

With an installed power of 144 megawatts, the complex has an annual production capacity of 250,000 megawatts/hour of energy, is capable of supplying 80,000 families and prevents the emission of 75,000 tons of CO2into the atmosphere. Impressive figures at a key moment in the company's commitment to alternative energy. As far as Carlos Relancio, director of Renewable Energies at Galp, is concerned, “this investment is an important reflection of Galp's commitment to energy transition”, and is a source of great satisfaction for the entire team involved in the project since it was created in 2017.

Carlos Relancio, Osvaldo Gonçalves and Diogo Sousa underlined the importance of the partnerships with the Municipality of Alcoutim and the Odiana Association for the implementation of the project

Now, and through the Galp Foundation, the complex has given rise to an initiative for the promotion of mobility, innovation and local development, in addition to social inclusion, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Proximity to the communities in which we operateis of paramount importance to Galp and its Foundation, as is the case of Alcoutim and our first solar power complex. We are neighbours and as neighbours we are committed to working and building together”, Sandra Aparício from the Galp Foundation points out.

As far as the town council officials Paulo Paulino and Osvaldo Gonçalves are concerned, it´s a privilege to have the support of Galp in a project that will have a positive impact on the local community


The project, known as Vilas em Movimento (Towns in Motion), is already underway, thanks to the support of the town council and Odiana – Association for the Local Development of the Lower Guadiana Region, which conducted the fieldwork to identify the needs of the local population and to implement initiatives to combat the social isolation of the elderly population and to enhance the region´s natural and cultural heritage. “We are promoting activities, more specifically workshops on sustainability with a focus on senior citizens, but which is open to all ages. The feedback has been extremely positive as peopleliving in more isolated areas feel the need for company and are therefore joining the project. Moments of conviviality, however few they may be, make all the difference”, emphasises Catarina Cavaco, the executive director of the institution.

As such, social inclusion is just one of the two components into which the project is divided. The other involves sustainable mobility. According to André Dias from Daloop, a Galp group company dedicated to electric mobility, this component includes the assembly of a system of 14 shared electric bicycles and four charging stations for use by residents and visitors to the town of Alcoutim. All that´s required to enjoy the service is to install and access a mobile application (available for android and iOS). “Using the best the micromobility market has on offer for urban areas today, we wanted to give this population something different, as they rarely have access to this type of service. Personally, I feel proud”, the Galp manager declares, pointing out that the system is scalable, so more charging stations can be installed and the initiative expanded to more towns in the region if necessary. “This is the same technology we are already using at our charging stations, we just need to add more stations and bicycles”, he concludes.

According to Catarina Cavaco from Odiana, sustainable mobility is still a challenge for people, as it is something new, but they are adapting well and joining in with the activities


The mobility component overlaps with that of social inclusion in the refurbishment of the “Mobility Facility” in Martim Longo. Featuring rooms designed for the free use of the population, the space provides a combination of physical exercise, health/physical rehabilitation and social well-being.

The concept was already in existence elsewhere in the parish, however, the partnership with the Galp Foundation led to the creation of a new facility and the provision of all the equipment required for the potential activities to be carried out there. “This is a support service that we were already providing to the population, a first-rate service that has now been improved even further. Anyone that needs to use this type of service, with or without a medical prescription, just needs to get in touch with the town council through the social action office", guarantees the mayor, Osvaldo Gonçalves, who adds: “It´s a privilege to be able to count on the support of Galp, which, we believe, will bear fruit for the future”.

According to Sandra Aparício, the Galp Foundation strives to work alongside all its social partners in order to understand what solutions can be implemented to create shared value, of which Vilas em Movimento is a good example.

A future brimming with ambition. According to Paulo Paulino, the vice-president of the Town Council, in charge of, among other areas, Strategic Planning, Management of Public Spaces and Municipal Works, the Vilas em Movimentoproject is part of a bigger dream, which is to connect the two banks of the river Guadiana, or in other words, Alcoutim to Sanlúcar de Guadiana (Spain), with a road, pedestrian and cycle bridge that is already under analysis, and which, if all goes well, could be ready by late 2025. In this context, he stresses, “the bicycle project makes perfect sense”.

This is the first time the Lower Guadiana region has received the support of the Galp Foundation in a project implemented in partnership with Odiana and the Municipality of Alcoutim. Diogo Sousa, executive director of the institution created in 2009 with the aim of promoting and strengthening citizenship and social responsibility, has no doubt that this is a path to be taken “together and in the long term”.