Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in Portugal

From 2005 to 2010, Portugal was able to raise the amount of renewable energy in the country up to 45 percent. Portugal has always been very adamant about the inclusion of using renewable energy sources. The first part of the plan was introducing natural gas to replace coal and oil and energy market liberalization to the private market. Now, Portugal is solely focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. It is currently one of the biggest cleantech countries in the EU as it takes advantage of all forms of renewable energy, including solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and wave.

1) Success of the E4 Initiative. The E4 Program (standing for “Energy Efficiency and Endogenous Energies”), was created in 2001 and consisted of a number of measures with the goal of promoting an integrated and consistent approach to the supply and demand of energy. E4 Initiative promoted renewable energy usage and energy efficiency. The goal was to increase economic competitiveness in Portugal, while, at the same time, preserving the environment by decreasing overall gas emissions. This initiative has been the driving force of the impact of cleantech. Through E4, a number of new policies have been created, including in 2007, when a law was passed mandating all new properties must be fitted with solar panels to aid with heating of water.

2) Global Leader in Alternative Energy. Portugal has become a leader in the world for alternative energy. Currently, it gets more than 45 percent of its renewable energy sources and it has surpassed the United States and has become one of the largest producers of wind energy throughout the globe. Portugal also has one of the largest working smart grids available, something that big-name countries like China and the United States aim to achieve but have not gotten there yet. Portugal is also planning to unveil in the next few years the first nation-wide electric car and charging station network. It will be the first in the world.

3) Incentives. To increase cleantech throughout the country, there have been a number of incentives to further promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Numerous investment subsidy programs were created to support projects in renewable energy. For the electricity market, there are a number of incentives revolving around feed-in tariffs for electricity created by renewable sources of energy. In the heat market there are capital investment subsidies, and in transportation, there are tax reductions for the usage of biofuels in RTD projects.

4) Portal Energia. One impact has been the increase in knowledge and the spread of education on clean technologies throughout Portugal. For example, Portal Energia is a website that provides loads of information on the different sources of energy available and the innovations within Portugal. The website offers practical information as well as documentation on renewable energy used for consultation. Also available are the many job opportunities available within the cleantech industry.

5) Meeting 2015 Goals, Surpassing them, and Making New Goals. In 2005, Portugal made an ambitious alternative energy goal – it wanted to have 45 percent of its total electricity needs met by alternative sources of energy by the year 2015. Money was invested into numerous projects, including one of the largest solar energy stations around the globe that covers 114 hectares of land, multiple wind turbines, and extreme use of wave energy. Because of their desire for cleantech, Portugal actually reached this goal by 2010! Portugal’s new goal is to reach 60 percent by 2020.

6) Increase in Alternative Transportation Measures. In 2008, Renault Nissan Alliance began work with Portugal to assist in the promotion of electric automobiles throughout the country. This is to go along with the unveiling of electric car network that is to open up sometime in the year 2011. This elevation in measures of alternative transportation aims to decrease Portugal’s overall carbon footprint in line with the measures dictated by the Kyoto Protocol.

7) Rapid Transformation. In 2005, no one would have guessed that Portugal would be able to quickly remove their dependence on imported fossil fuels and make the switch to renewable sources of energy. However, the ambitious projects of the country paid off as the country is now harnessing wind and hydropower, as well as sun and wave power. Many restaurants, factories, and results are not powered by clean energy. The Prime Minister, Jose Socrates stated that, “The experience of Portugal shows that it is possible to make these changes in a very short time.” Through aggressive national policies, the privatization of energy utilities, and the tapping of Portugal’s large resources in wind and river, Portugal has risen to the top.

8 ) Supportive Cleantech Policies. To stimulate the use of electric renewable energy sources, Portugal has made a number of supporting policies, including fixed feed-in tariffs for every kWh created by renewable energy sources, investment subsidies, and multiple tax reductions.

9) Cleantech Initiatives. There have been a number of initiatives to increase energy efficiency within Portugal. There has been the National Economic and Social Development Plan, the National Climate Change Program, The Solar Hot Water Program for Portugal, the Program for Energy Efficiency in Buildings, and the National Strategy for Sustainable Development. One of the most recent has been the National Energy Strategy. Its objectives include energy supply safety, attention to environmental concerns, and stimulus to companies in the sector of clean energy and productivity of Portuguese economy. To reach these objectives, the guidelines focus on different areas, including energy efficiency promotion, liberalization of electricity, fuel, and gas market, strengthening of all renewable energies, and innovation in energy.

10) World’s First Commercial Wave Farm. Right by Portugal is the very first attempt at a successful wave farm. The Agucadoura Wave Farm is located three miles offshore in northern Portugal. At the peak output, the wave farm provides enough electricity to feed the annual needs of roughly 1,500 residential homes. Eventually, it will be expanded to feed energy to more homes. It saves on 60,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Wave technology, when done correctly, is not only more predictable than other forms of renewable energy, but more sustained.

Article by Shawn Lesser, president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at

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