Although the Portuguese economy might not be doing so well, Portugal does score very highly in one particular sector. Portugal is streets ahead of other countries in producing renewable power, and around a quarter of its electricity is generated in this way, something that is likely to save the economy €9 billion over the next 20 years.
Renewable energy resources, especially wind farms, are cutting energy bills and reducing the carbon footprint of Portugal while in comparison Germany recently announced it is to build 10 new coal-fired power stations to replace nuclear power.
Renewable energy in Portugal has more than doubled in just 10 years, increasing from less than 5 GW in 2001 to reach just less than 11 GW last year. In 2001 renewable energy accounted for just 3% of electricity production, but by last year this had risen to 25%.
Wind energy accounted for 93% of Portugal’s electricity usage at one point, although admittedly this was at 4:30 AM in the morning. During the last decade Portugal’s use of fossil fuels has declined from 60% to less than 40%, and imports have fallen for five successive years.
The impact of renewable energy has meant Portugal saved €400 million between 2005 and 2010. Portugal has the world’s largest solar farm, and has Europe’s largest wind farm. It also has an impressive hydroelectric dam infrastructure. Just recently a Finnish company built a machine which is anchored to the ocean floor just north of Lisbon, and which utilises wave energy.
These types of projects could provide many jobs within the green energy sector in Portugal. In the past the Portuguese government used to give subsidies for electric vehicles and domestic solar panels, but these have been cut during the recent austerity measures.