Thursday, 30 May 2013

Portugal provides 70% of electricity using renewable energy
19 Apr 2013

Figures from Portugal's electricity network operator indicate that 70% of all electricity consumed in the country during the first quarter of this year was derived from renewable energy sources, leading to a marked decline in the usage of conventional fossil fuels for power generation purposes.

The record-breaking levels of renewable energy usage were heavily abetted by favourable weather conditions, expediting generation by hydroelectric power facilities and wind turbines and bringing about declines in electricity consumption by Portuguese citizens.

Hydro was the biggest power provider throughout the quarter, supplying 37% of all electricity consumed in Portugal for a staggering 312% year-on-year increase.

Wind power came in second, supplying 27% of total electricity and achieving a record-breaking generation level for Portugal. wind turbine power generation levels increased 60% year-on-year and were 37% greater than average.

In stark contrast to the prominence of hydroelectric power and wind in Portugal's energy portfolio, however, solar power makes only a negligible contribution to nationwide power generation. While figures on solar power generation for the first quarter of 2013 are not yet available, in 2012 photovoltaics only supplied 0.7% of total energy demand, equivalent to 225.5 MWs.

The frugal energy consumption habits of the Portuguese no doubt also contributed to the increased prominence of renewables. While a warm winter and fewer working days contributed to a marked decline in energy usage of 2.3% during the first quarter, power consumption in Portugal has fallen steadily over the past several years and currently stands at 2006 levels.

The increased usage of renewable energy has conversely led to a sharp decline in the consumption of conventional fossil fuels, which the small Iberian nation can only import. Portugal used 29% less coal and 44% less gas for electricity generation in the first quarter compared to 2012 figures.

Portugal has undertaken concerted efforts to transition toward renewable energy sources since the middle of last decade, in order to reduce the country's reliance on imported fossil fuels as well as harness its rich climate resources as a peninsular nation state.

In 2011, Portugal even managed to use renewable energy sources to provide for all the country's power needs for a period of several hours. The March quarter of 2013 marks the first occasion, however, that the country has managed to supply so much of its energy needs from renewable sources over such a protracted time frame.