Four Days Using Only Renewable Energy – How Portugal Did It
Analysis of national energy network figures in Portugal showed the country managed to keep its lights powered on using only renewable energy for four consecutive days earlier this month.
The country’s electricity consumption from 6am on Saturday May 7th until 5.45pm on the following Wednesday was fully covered by solar, wind and hydropower. This is 107 hours of renewable energy and zero emissions.
This analysis comes after Germany announced it had powered its entire electricity needs on May 15th using clean energy. This caused power prices to turn negative at various intervals during the day, essentially paying customers to consume it.
“This data shows that Portugal can be more ambitious in a transition to a net consumption of electricity from 100 percent renewable, with huge reductions of emissions of greenhouse gases, which cause global warming and consequent climate change,” a statement on Portugal’s ZERO System Sustainable Land Association website read.
Speaking about this emerging trend recently, spokesperson for the Wind Europe Trade Association, Oliver Joy said: “We are seeing trends like this spread across Europe – last year with Denmark and now in Portugal. The Iberian peninsula is a great resource for renewables and wind energy, not just for the region but for the whole of Europe.”
The CEO of SolarPower Europe, James Watson, described this as a “significant achievement for a Europe country”.
“But what seems extraordinary today will be commonplace in Europe in just a few years.” he added. “The energy transition process is gathering momentum and records such as this will continue to be set and broken across Europe.”
Figures from the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association showed that wind provided 22% of electricity in the country and all renewable sources together provided 48%.
Although the EU renewable targets for 2020 has spurred Portugal’s clean energy efforts its support schemes for wind capacity was reduced in back in 2012. Despite this fact, the country added 550 MW of wind capacity between 2013 and 2016. Industry groups in Portugal are now focusing on the green energy’s export potential.
“An increased build-out of interconnectors, a reformed electricity market and political will are all essential,” Joy said. “But with the right policies in place, wind could meet a quarter of Europe’s power needs in the next 15 years.”
Portugal has the added benefit of plenty of hydro and pumped storage to help with their efforts.
In 2015, wind power alone met 42% of electricity demand in Denmark, 20% in Spain, 13% in Germany and 11% in the UK.
Officials in Costa Rica reported in 2015 that the country managed to power its grid on 100 percent renewable sources for more than 285 days. Iceland has achieved 100 percent renewable energy, while Norway reached 98 percent. Uruguay is at a close 95 percent.
Recently, UK citizens celebrated a clean energy landmark of their own as the UK’s electricity was supplied for the first time without burning any coal. From Monday May 9 to the following Sunday lunchtime, the UK was at “zero coal” almost one-third of the time.
Watson said: “The age of inflexible and polluting technologies is drawing to an end and power will increasingly be provided from clean, renewable sources.”
It is no surprise that governments are working to end our dependence on fossil fuels. The generation of renewable energy is clean and non-polluting, and most forms do not emit any greenhouse gasses or toxic waste. It is also looked upon as a cost-effective and efficient source of energy that can be relied upon for the long term.