On 27th February 2012, EDP opened the power reinforcement facilities of the Picote and Bemposta dams. The opening ceremony took place in the new Picote dam gallery, at 150 m depth, including the presence of the Deputy Minister and the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Miguel Relvas.
These two hydroelectric projects, located completely within the International Douro Natural Park, represent a total investment of 300 million Euros and generate approximately three thousand direct and indirect jobs. This investment has almost doubled the capacity of the two hydroelectric dams, providing a boost in power equivalent to the annual consumption of 120 thousand families. These two projects combined will generate more than 375 GWh/year of clean and renewable energy for the domestic power generation system. This will increase Portugal's hydroelectric power production by a total of 4%, helping to optimise existing infrastructures while ensuring Douro waters are utilised to the maximum, in addition to reducing dependency on imported fossil fuels, reducing CO2 emissions and saving the country around 30 million Euros per year.
Work originally began in 2007 and 2008, with the power reinforcement facilities entering into operation, as scheduled, in October 2011.
Construction work taking place at the Picote II hydroelectric plant in Miranda do Douro, boosting power by a total of 12.5%, was carried out by an MSF-led consortium with Opway, with supply and subsequent assembly of equipment under the responsibility of Voith Hydro/Siemens, works inspection and safety coordination carried out by Consulgul and Tecnoplano. The new hydroelectric equipment consists of a cavern-based underground generating unit (L 68 m, W 23 m and H 58 m) of approximately 150 metres in depth, including a tunnel-based hydraulic circuit, a series of wells and a number of auxiliary/access tunnels, totalling 1,990 metres. The generating unit is equipped with its own generator group (turbine/alternator) and has rated power of 246 MW / 270 MVA.
The Somague/MSF consortium is responsible for the civil construction of the power reinforcement system of the Bemposta II dam, located in the municipality of Mogadouro. Power increased, due to construction work, by a total of 80%, in which supply and assembly of equipment was carried out by the Andritz Hydro/Ensulmeci consortium. Site supervision and safety coordination services were performed by Fase and Tabique. The new unit consists of a 22 metre underground plant of approximately 80 metres in depth, a tunnel-based hydraulic circuit and various wells and a number of other auxiliary and access tunnels, totalling 969 metres. The generating unit is equipped with its own generator group, consisting of a Francis turbine and an alternator with rated power of 191 MW / 212 MVA.
Project planning and contract management for both civil works was carried out by EDP.