Portugal’s bold renewable energy policy

To CleanTechnica : ” Five years ago, when 17% of Portugal’s energy came from renewable energy – about like California now – the government made a bold decision to aim for 45% during the next five years – by 2010.”

And it worked : the country is due to reach this most ambitious goal by the end of this year. The added capacity – mostly hydro and wind power – will add little to the utility bills and the investments are due to pay themselves within ten years.

Of course, Portugal is relatively small as its population is only of 10 million, but what can be done there can be done everywhere.

It is time our elected representatives have a look at the example set by their Portuguese counterparts.

As Elisabeth Rosenthal noted in the New York Times :

Five years ago, the leaders of this sun-scorched, wind-swept nation made a bet: To reduce Portugal’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, they embarked on an array of ambitious renewable energy projects — primarily harnessing the country’s wind and hydropower, but also its sunlight and ocean waves.

Today, Lisbon’s trendy bars, Porto’s factories and the Algarve’s glamorous resorts are powered substantially by clean energy. Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago.

Land-based wind power — this year deemed “potentially competitive” with fossil fuels by the International Energy Agency in Paris — has expanded sevenfold in that time. And Portugal expects in 2011 to become the first country to inaugurate a national network of charging stations for electric cars.

“I’ve seen all the smiles — you know: It’s a good dream. It can’t compete. It’s too expensive,” said Prime Minister José Sócrates, recalling the way Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, mockingly offered to build him an electric Ferrari. Mr. Sócrates added, “The experience of Portugal shows that it is possible to make these changes in a very short time.”

(…) Portugal is now on track to reach its goal of using domestically produced renewable energy, including large-scale hydropower, for 60 percent of its electricity and 31 percent of its total energy needs by 2020. (Total energy needs include purposes other than generating electricity, like heating homes and powering cars.)

On a more general approach, it seems this trend is expanding throughout Europe and the world:

Still, aggressive national policies to accelerate renewable energy use are succeeding in Portugal and some other countries, according to a recent report by IHS Emerging Energy Research of Cambridge, Mass., a leading energy consulting firm.

By 2025, the report projected, Ireland, Denmark and Britain will also get 40 percent or more of their electricity from renewable sources; if power from large-scale hydroelectric dams, an older type of renewable energy, is included, countries like Canada and Brazil join the list.

The United States, which last year generated less than 5 percent of its power from newer forms of renewable energy, will lag behind at 16 percent (or just over 20 percent, including hydroelectric power), according to IHS.

[Photo credits : Flickr, AiresAlmeida.]

2 thoughts on “Portugal’s bold renewable energy policy”

  1. how many proofs of validity do people need to support clean energy?
    if a small country such as Portugal can advance with clear determination and speed…why can’t larger economies succeed as well?
    it is not a race–it is survival of the species…it shows.

  2. I think the main problem here is Big Oil and Big Coal, which are lobbying intensely in many countries…

    They lobby to get big subsidies, which are used then for advertising, PR and other stuff.

    But more and more countries are showing that we can do get off of these polluting energy sources. It isn’t a question that we lack alternatives. it is more a question of political will.

    Many thanks for your comment Nadine, keep them coming as it is a real pleasure to know that one’s work is appreciated.

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