«This will be an important project not only for Portimão, not only for the Algarve, it will even be an international reference». The words are from Ana Abrunhosa, Minister of Territorial Cohesion, and were delivered this Friday, August 26th, at the Algarve International Circuit, in Portimão, at the presentation of the future CELERATOR Technological Pole, dedicated to Renewable Energies applied to mobility and transport.
The official added that the new structure, to be created in the Autódromo complex, will be “the only technological center in the country that will have a track as a laboratory”.
The project will be implemented by CELERATOR – Associação Parque Tecnológico do Algarve, which brings together Parkalgar SA, the company that owns the Autódromo, and the University of Algarve. The objective is to create a Technological Pole in the Transport, Mobility and Energy Solutions sector, dedicated to Renewable Energies.
Paulo Pinheiro, CEO of Parkalgar and the man who dreamed all of this, highlighted, in the presentation of the project, that «Portimão is the 56th city in Portugal and is not even in the largest 10 thousand in Europe. But in terms of motorsport, motorsport, it is one of the three biggest in the world».
The Technological Park, which will cost 7,2 million euros and will be ready at the end of the summer of next year, «will have all the technical conditions, among the most advanced in the world, to test everything: fuels, ways of locomotion, autonomous vehicles, hybrids, not hybrids", he added.
All this, underlined Paulo Pinheiro, «makes the paths to sustainability pass through Portimão» and will make «Portimão and Portugal» become «a great reference worldwide in the area of engineering».
José Apolinário, president of the Algarve Regional Development and Coordination Commission (CCDR), added that it is “an investment whose results go far beyond the 4 million public investment”, through the FEDER community fund.
Apolinário made a point of underlining that, despite being created in the municipality of Portimão, where the Autodromo is installed, the Technological Park is a project cherished throughout the region. In this regard, he highlighted the presence in the room of «mayors from across the region», «from the vice-president of the Alcoutim Chamber to the mayor of Aljezur».
António Pina, mayor of Olhão and of AMAL – Intermunicipal Community of the Algarve, recalled that the Algarve mayors considered the Technological Park to be created at the Portimão Circuit as the 3rd most important investment for the Algarve, right after the Port of Portimão ( 1st) and Central Hospital (2nd). This, in his opinion, translates well that this «is not just a project for Portimão, it is for the region».
Isilda Gomes, mayor of Portimão, followed the same line, saying: «what is good for Portimão, for Lagos or Lagoa, is good for the whole Algarve».
For his part, the president of the CCDR added that “without the partnership of the University, it would not be possible to proceed with this project”.
Paulo Águas, rector of the University of Algarve, admitted the importance of the partnership with Parkalgar, stressing that «interaction with society, with companies» is part of that academy's «mission».
Saying that «we are interested in this», the dean added that UAlg «only benefits from a region with a more diversified economy», an objective to which the future Technological Park will contribute.
On the sidelines of the session, in statements to the Sul Informação, Paulo Águas explained that this project «will also promote research at the University. We will be, in a next phase, partners of the companies that come to settle here, there will be projects, there will be work together. That's an immediate gain."
But there is still “another gain, less immediate: if the region manages to have more qualified jobs, that is good for the University. It will make us more competitive, we will be more sought after by students and, in essence, it is a question of creating virtuous circles here».
Isilda Gomes made a point of praising the businessman Paulo Pinheiro, the father do Autodromo, classifying him as «fighter, worker, consistent in the defense of the Algarve».
António Pina had already said that «Paulo Pinheiro has passed the Algarve raisins», to bring the global project of the International Circuit to a successful conclusion.
The entrepreneur himself, in statements to the Sul Informação, explained that «for us, the Technological Center has always been crucial for the success of the Autódromo's global project, even more today, in which the issues of mobility, sustainability, the new forms of locomotion that the industry is developing, are crucial ».
To the governors, regional leaders of the most diverse bodies of the Central Administration or the deconcentrated administration of the State, to the leaders of the business associations and even to the mayors, present at the session that took place in the VIP Tower of the Autódromo, Paulo Pinheiro recalled that this structure has been establish close ties with the most innovative brands and companies in the automotive world.
At that same moment, from the track of the circuit, came the noise of the car engines of the Volkswagen/Audi/Porsche Group, which, for more than a week, with «32 cars and more than 90 people», had been testing there its latest innovations and «doing development and research on various components»: «cars that go by themselves, at more than 300 km/hour, that do not use any fossil fuel».
Paulo Pinheiro presented this example as proof of the strong connection that the Autódromo already has with the automotive industry, one of the most innovative in the world.
Minister Ana Abrunhosa also highlighted this aspect: «here we already have the companies and the open-air laboratory, which is the race track, the track. To develop new solutions and new products, we needed the Technological Park, which unites Parkalgar, which has the racetrack, and the University of Algarve, which has the knowledge».
In other words, added the minister, «this project already has what many technology parks lack, which is the market to which to pass the new solutions, the companies to test the new solutions, to develop the prototypes».
“We don't have many projects like this in the world. It is the only technology park in the country that has a track as a laboratory», said the Minister of Territorial Cohesion, in statements to our newspaper.
Ana Abrunhosa underlined that «new phases are foreseen for this project, namely a business reception area, for five highly innovative companies, which will then commercialize the products, innovations and technological solutions that will be developed here».
The Technological Park, the minister also stressed, will make it possible to create in the Algarve a «cluster of renewable energies, but linked to two sectors that today are still very polluting – mobility and transport. All policies and support today are aimed at decarbonization, energy transition, making economic activity, namely these sectors of mobility and transport, greener, less polluting, using cleaner energies. This project has it all!”
And are there interested companies?, wanted to know the Sul Informação. «We already have interested companies, Portuguese and foreign», guaranteed Paulo Pinheiro. “Until now, for procedural reasons, we could not reach an agreement with any of the brands and companies that have already approached us”.
According to the project, these are companies from high and medium-high technology sectors and in knowledge-intensive services, which will be installed in the infrastructure in 2024.
And what will still need to be built to create this Technological Park? Parkalgar's CEO explains that progress will be made towards the construction of the «building and equipment». It is about the construction of facilities, including laboratories and test centers with 1.818 square meters.
«The project includes the necessary equipment, so that any brand that wants to be installed has Research & Development equipment for any form of locomotion – heat engines, electric motors», he added.
Since the goal is to have everything ready by next summer, the project will have to make a race against time, nothing that Paulo Pinheiro is not used to: «the objective is to launch the public tender for the construction before the end of this year, launch the construction right at the beginning of next year and then have a record construction deadline, as happened with the Autodromo, to have the Technological Center up and running at the end of the summer».
Before, José Apolinário, president of CCDR Algarve, had said that, with the presentation of the project, this Friday, the “green light” was given for the departure. «In a year we will be here to lower the flag of arrival».
The minister Ana Abrunhosa, starting from the famous verse by Fernando Pessoa and quoting the mayor António Pina, concluded: «God wants, man dreams (and passes the Algarve raisins) and the work is born».
Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação
What will the CELERATOR association project be?The project presented by CELERATOR – Associação Parque Tecnológico do Algarve aims to develop a Technological Park dedicated to the research, development and implementation of energy solutions based on green hydrogen and synthetic fuels, aiming at:• the creation of a Technological Pole with the construction of facilities including laboratories and testing centers with 1.818 m2;
• the provision of test bench facilities for Internal Combustion engines with and without coupled hybrid power systems;
• the installation of Modules to investigate the process of creating and implementing Fuel Cells in conventional means of transport;
• the creation of Units for research and development, and installation of units for recycling, with the maximized reuse of end-of-life electric car batteries;
• the installation of a research and development unit, with a component for comparison with a conventional unit, for Otto Thermal Engines, using synthetic fuels, for diversified uses. The acceleration of research and development of solutions and technologies in the aforementioned areas will be developed in partnership by the business and scientific and technological systems, with the following strategic objectives: • Automated goods transport solutions, making the transport logistics of equipment in the automotive industry (between OEM's suppliers/manufacturers and motor vehicle assemblers) a net contributor to the carbon neutrality;
• Requalification and recycling of electric motor vehicle batteries and their components;
• Research and development of solutions for integrating green hydrogen into synthetic fuels.
The genesis of this technological infrastructure is also the search for technological solutions that will be developed and placed on the market, helping to fulfill the carbon neutrality commitments assumed by Portugal and the European Union.