Portugal Shows Leadership in Renewable Energy


In my previous article for Cleantechies, I wrote that many European nations are already benefiting from renewable energy sources. A country that was missing from the list was Portugal.  In today’s article we will see how the country is also leading on clean energy sources.

In 2010, Elisabeth Rosenthal wrote in the New York Times that the country was until fairly recently mostly powered by fossil fuels. From 2000 to 2005, the share of renewables was between 17 and 19.7 percent. Their average share in the local electricity mix in this period amounted to 19 percent.

But in 2005, the Portuguese government decided to sail away from imported fossil fuels and embarked their nation on a massive clean energy cruise.  Their plans were most successful as the following figures will show you.

As an example, wind power capacity grew 16-fold in ten years, from 289 MW in 2003 to 4,724 MW in 2013.  As a result, in the first quarter of 2013, renewables – mostly hydroelectricity and wind power – supplied 70 percent of electricity of the country.

As a consequence, generation from fossil fuels decreased significantly. Compared to the first quarter of 2012, generation by coal-fired plants and natural gas fired plants fell by 29 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

Overall, in 2013, renewable energy sources provided over 58 percent of the total as the local newspaper Publico reported. Hydro provided 29 percent while wind power brought 23 percent. Solar and biomass brought one and five percent, respectively.

One year later, in 2014, local energy distributing company REN notes on its homepage that renewable energy sources provided 80.9 percent of the electricity of the country in January and February. For February alone, this figure reaches 84.4 percent.

Portugal offers yet another example of how a transition to local and clean renewable energy sources can be done with the right political support. Let’s hope other European nations, the United States and other countries around the world will learn from this exciting example.

Image appearing courtesy Flickr.

About Author

Fascinated by sustainability and cleantech since 2004, Edouard wrote both his Bachelor of Arts' dissertation and Master's thesis on sustainable energy topics. He haven't stopped writing on these subjects ever since. A French Master's graduate in international management, Edouard has had several experiences in Marketing and Communications in Europe. He worked for firms as diverse as a German water treatment company, a leading French business school and lately a Belgian automation specialist. He is currently for hire globally. Since 2007 Edouard has been selecting for his own blog the latest headlines and best researches on sustainable development, climate change, cleantech and the world energy sector. With over 1,600 published articles, he is read all over the world. On Cleantechies, Edouard has been proposing since June 2009 news articles and opinion pieces on on French and European policies. Don't hesitate to contact him as he is always interested in discussing with new people.