3 January 2017

Portugal proves a whole country can run on renewables alone

In May 2016, Portugal managed to run for four and a half days on renewable electricity alone, thanks to favourable weather and the use of 83 hydroelectric dams to store green energy. 

Despite fears of blackouts, electricity was sustained for a record 107 hours from the morning of Saturday 7 May through to 5.45pm on the following Wednesday.

The climate in Portugal fluctuates between wet and dry years. During wet years, hydropower is the leading source of energy, followed by wind and coal. In dry years, coal is the primary source, followed by wind and hydro.

According to Apren, the Portuguese renewable energy association, renewable energy has been responsible for 59 per cent of national energy production during a wet 2016 - with 32 per cent from hydro power, 25 per cent from wind and 2 per cent from solar.

Portugal has been a leader on clean energy for more than a decade; however, efforts to increase the renewable sector have been dampened by Portugal’s economic crisis, which has discouraged potential investors and slowed growth.

Despite the slowdown, Sá de Costa, Managing Director of Apren, is optimistic about Portugal’s capacity to comfortably meet and exceed the targets set by the EU for all member states to have at least a 27 per cent share of renewable energy consumption by 2030.

With adequate investment and construction, he believes that Portugal could be on track to generate 60 per cent of its energy through renewables by 2020 and 100 per cent by 2040.

Sá da Costa said: “Now no one can come along and say in good conscience that this is impossible. No. This is possible. Because we did it. And if we did it, it’s also possible in other countries. It’s just a question of finding how to do it.”

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