The Ria Formosa is a lagoon in the Algarve, southern Portugal. A nature reserve covering 170 km2 is home to a large variety of flora and fauna with many exotic species, such as flamingos and chameleons. On one of the barrier islands of the lagoon, José Vargas and his family make the impossible possible – with no electricity or drinking water pipes in sight, he runs the top-class restaurant “Estaminé” amid the sand dunes of the Ilha Deserta, with the utmost standards of sustainability.
When Estaminé serves up fresh oysters or its famous rice and lobster stew, there is sophisticated technology at work behind the scenes. The entire water supply of the restaurant, including the mussel tanks where seafood is cultivated, is fed from process and ground water that has been collected and purified by reverse osmosis. José and his team also need electricity for lighting, dishwashers, hobs and refrigerating food and beverages. On an average operating day, the restaurant consumes around 430 kWh overall. Overnight, there is a steady power demand of 10 kW, mainly for water treatment and freezers.
The restaurant used to run on a diesel generator. But the fumes and noise did not suit the upscale atmosphere of the restaurant, and above all, this was not an economical solution. Because they need to warm up, diesel generators have to run longer than the actual periods when power is required. And then there are maintenance costs and transportation of fuel to the island. The many hours of sunshine made a photovoltaic system an obvious alternative for Estaminé, but one that needed an additional storage system to cover consumption in the evening and nighttime as well.
Requirements for a storage solution:
The specialists in renewable energies at FF Solar installed a photovoltaic system with nominal power of 60 kWp for Estaminé, supplementing the system with 384 kWh of energy from the TESVOLT TS 48 V battery storage system. The storage system can maintain full operations for one day without a generator. This mainly runs in times of extended cloud cover, kicking in when the battery charging level is at 20 % to provide a minimum reserve in case the generator fails.
We focus on European products because we stand for high quality. We have tried Asian products, but we weren’t really satisfied. They keep their cards close to their chest and they won’t discuss problems. You might get a replacement, but you can’t get anyone on the phone.
Sebastian Sennewald, Energy Consultant, Co-owner and Manager, FF Solar
The system isn’t free, of course – but it is reliable, and that is what we need. It’s also really cool that we can control everything via the portal; that makes the logistics a lot easier.
José Vargas, Restaurateur and Proprietor, Estaminé Restaurant