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It is the first time that something like this has happened in a developed country, one of the European countries with the most hours of sunshine, but also with a wild Atlantic Ocean that offers waves and winds to take advantage of. Similar processes occurred in England and Germany, but only for a few hours.
The four days in a row running on non-fossil fuels occurred between 6:45 AM on Saturday, May 7, and 5:45 PM on the following Wednesday: 107 hours in a row, during which the country's electricity grid was supplied with natural sources of energy and without carbon emissions.
In this year, 74.7% of the national energy production comes from non-fossil energies, mainly from water (44.1%) of all renewable energies, followed by wind (25.6%) and biomass ( 4%); for the first time, solar production exceeded 1% of the total, according to data from the Association of Renewable Energies, Apren.
Hydric energy is the most abundant today, but it will decline, since much of the potential has already been exploited by existing facilities. The immediate future is for wind, the cheapest technology when considering a new power generation project, cheaper even than conventional ones such as natural gas or coal, according to an EDP spokesperson. In the future, a reduction in solar investment costs is expected, which would allow this situation to become more common, although not before 2020.
At the moment, economically, the citizen does not benefit if the electricity comes from the purchase of coal or oil or from nature. The Portuguese electricity bill is, after the German, the most expensive in Europe, with a tax burden of 42%, only higher than that of the Danes and Germans, according to Eurostat data. In proportion to the Portuguese purchasing power, the price of electricity and gas is unmatched in Europe.
Aside from ecological advantages, renewable energies settle the rural population. In general, the facilities are usually built in rural areas where there are greater wind or water resources. This fact improves rural economies with the creation of jobs, improvement of infrastructures and an increase in tax collection.
EDPR, the main national energy generator, has been developing wind farms since 1996, has its European headquarters in Madrid, and another office in Houston to manage its assets in the United States and Canada. It has licenses to develop wind farms in Brazil, and solar and maritime parks in Portugal.
The change in energy production in Portugal has been very profound in the last 40 years. In 1980 it was one of the most energy-polluting European countries, exactly 27th out of 30 countries, according to a study carried out by Europe Diry 30, due to the Sines thermoelectric plant. But already in 2004, Portugal had achieved that almost 20% of its consumption was renewable energy, while in Spain it was barely 8%.
The European watchdog KeepOnTrack recalls that Portugal has lost steam in the last two years in its program to replace fossil fuels and that, if it continues like this, it will not meet the objective of the European directive so that by 2020 31% of its consumption energy comes from non-fossil sources. Spain, France, England and Ireland will not comply either.