18 de April, 2022
Portugal is one of Europe’s clean energy leaders. It currently gets 60% of its electricity from renewable sources, one of the highest proportions of green energy use in Europe. And the Portuguese government has just announced that it aims to achieve 80% clean energy in electricity production by 2026, four years earlier than previously planned. These plans should result in more than €25 billion of private and public investment over the next 10 years. The country is also one of the first in the world to commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. It is worth noting that in 2004, Portugal consumed 19.2% of energy from clean sources and in 2010 this percentage was already 41%!
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The goal of replacing carbon-emitting fossil fuels with renewable energies, such as wind and solar, was accelerated in Europe after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Currently, Portugal mainly imports liquefied natural gas from the US and Nigeria. It stopped importing Russian oil in 2020.
Portugal has different sources of renewable energy: sun, wind, water, waves, geothermal and biomass. In addition to these, it also uses fossil resources, such as coal, oil and natural gas, to ensure that the population’s energy needs are met. In 2020, two coal-fired power plants were shut down: Sines (in January) and Pego (in November).
According to data from the trade association Solar Power Europe, Portugal had around 1.5 GW of solar energy installed in 2021, a figure the country aims to increase to at least 9 GW by 2030. In 2021, wind and hydro energy had the major contribution in national production, covering 26% and 23% of the country’s demand, respectively. Biomass energy followed with 7% and solar photovoltaic (PV) with 3.5%. Although still the least significant in terms of volume in the country, photovoltaic sources recorded a 37% increase over the previous year, according to data from REN – Redes Energéticas Nacionais.
The Portuguese sea, famous for the giant waves of Nazaré, has also been the stage for energy exploration since 1999. Generated through the movement of waves, wave energy is an alternative, clean and renewable source of energy for generating electricity, but it is still little explored in the world.
In Portugal, the greatest potential lies off the northwest and central coasts of mainland Portugal, off locations such as Aljezur, Sines, Cascais, Peniche, Nazaré, Figueira da Foz, Aveiro, Leixões and Viana do Castelo.
Now the Portuguese government intends to unite the power of ocean waves and wind in the European Scaleable Offshore Renewable Energy Sources (EU-SCORES) project, which will be located off the coast of Viana do Castelo. The venture aims to use CorPower’s wave power linked to offshore wind energy to create one of the world’s first combined offshore energy arrays. Portuguese coasts are estimated to contain around 34 GW of wave energy and the government aims to harness 70 MW by 2030. This combined approach creates a more resilient and stable energy system, not only with greater production capacity, at lower cost per MWh (Megawatt-hour), but also more consistency.
Portugal has increasingly invested in the energy sector, promoting its innovation and sustainability. Energy efficiency measures are being implemented in buildings, with the installation of LED lighting systems or renewable energy use systems, with the aim of reducing the energy bill and greenhouse gas emissions.
This year, the largest floating solar park in Europe will start operating in the country. It will operate on the Alqueva reservoir and will have 12,000 solar panels, the size of four football pitches, which will produce 7.5 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per year. The solar panels will supply energy to 1,500 families, or a third of the needs of the nearby towns of Moura and Portel.
From another perspective, there are also energy management systems that make it possible to control the consumption of installations, enabling consumers to adapt their energy behaviour. In Portugal, around half of the buildings have a high energy rating, between A+ and C. Approximately 30% of buildings are classified as category C, according to the Energy Information Centre.