Portugal Powered Entirely by Renewable Energy for Four Consecutive Days
Jun 19 2016
Last month, Portugal reached the remarkable landmark of powering the entire country for four consecutive days only through renewable energy. For a grand total of 107 hours, the homes and businesses of the whole country received their electricity solely from wind, solar and hydroelectric power.
The milestone was discovered after careful analysis of figures supplied by the national energy network. The achievement represents not only excellent news for the future of the Portuguese clean energy market, but of that in wider Europe, as well.
A culmination of efforts
The noteworthy run began at 6.45am on the 7th of May and lasted until 5.45pm on the 11th. It signifies a huge leap in the capabilities of Portuguese clean energy – but this has been in the making for some years now.
After the European Commission took legal action against nine member states (including Portugal) in 2011, the nation invested significant amounts of energy in curbing its polluting energy generation habits. The following year, the government pulled back subsidies for wind power, but despite this, Portugal still managed to add a staggering 550MW of wind capacity over the next four years.
Last year, energy garnered from wind farms supplied almost a quarter of the country’s energy needs (22%), while all of its renewable sources put together comprised a whopping 48% of electricity needs.
Europe turning a clean energy corner
The news of Portugal’s impressive achievement came hot on the heels of an announcement in Germany that the country achieved almost all of its energy needs through renewable means for one day. On Sunday 15th May, solar, wind, water and biomass energy supplied 45.5GW of a 45.8GW demand. During this period, electricity prices actually fell into negative figures on several occasions, meaning citizens were essentially being paid to power their homes.
Elsewhere, wind power fuelled 42% of Danish power needs in 2015, while it served 20% of Spanish demand and 13% of German. Closer to home, 11% of British power consumption came from wind last year, while the UK also reached a landmark of its own in May by enjoying its first week of power generation without the help of coal.
In fact, European renewable energy is positively thriving right now – and is expected to continue doing so in the coming years. Experts estimate that renewable energy generation will grow by an average of 8% every year for the next four years across the whole of Europe.
Portugal to provide power to Europe and beyond?
Now that Portugal has proved it can meet its own energy needs (for a short time, at least), industry groups have targeted exporting this clean energy to their European neighbours.
“The Iberian peninsula is a great resource for renewables and wind energy, not just for the region but for the whole of Europe,” explained Oliver Joy, spokesperson for one such group called Wind Europe. “An increased build-out of interconnectors, a reformed electricity market and political will are all essential. But with the right policies in place, wind could meet a quarter of Europe’s power needs in the next 15 years.”
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