The Portuguese Association for Renewable Energies (APREN) and environmental group, the Zero Association, today called for more effort on renewable energy production in Portugal as a way of increasing the country’s self-reliance.
In a joint statement, the two associations looked at the 2017 performance and both have demanded a rapid expansion in renewable energy production for 2018.
Portugal’s CO2 emissions from non-renewable energy production, oil, gas and coal, actually went up last year by 4 million tonnes, a 25% increase to 19.4 million tonnes.
“With the effects of drought on electricity production and large areas of burning, 2017 is the year with the highest emissions of greenhouse gases in Portugal since the beginning of the decade,” explain the boffins.
Renewable energy production in 2017 represented only 44% of electricity consumption, but did allow a fall in the average price of electricity traded in the wholesale market. This translated into a benefit to consumers of €727 million, as well as savings €770 million in fossil fuel imports.
Wind power was the big contributor, followed by hydropower, bio-energy and photovoltaic.
António Sá da Costa, president of APREN, believes that “the benefits of renewables once again have far exceeded their costs, making them the most cost-effective solution for the national electricity system.”
Francisco Ferreira, president of ZERO, believes that “Portugal must invest much more in energy efficiency and renewable energy for the country to be carbon neutral by 2050 – this investment has to be accelerated strongly.”
“The use of solar energy is crucial and we need to inform, simplify and overcome obstacles that prevent us from having many more buildings with roofs fitted with photovoltaic panels or in the case of large solar parks, giving preference to areas without other significant uses,” explained Ferreira.
The two associations say they are looking forward to a major development of solar photovoltaic electricity and bio-energy, which they consider to be essential to exploit Portugal’s sunshine and forest biomass from the new forest cleaning programme in the wake of the summer 2017 fires.
Grid-connected photovoltaic systems installed in Portugal supplied just 1.7% of the country’s power production in 2017, according to grid company REN.
Hydro-electric power supplied 11% of total demand, and wind power supplied 23%. Biomass production was 5%, while natural gas and coal were burned to supply 60% of last year’s energy demand, with shares of 34% and 26%.
Meanwhile, in the first 10 months of 2017, just 11 MW of new photovoltaic systems were registered in Portugal. In 2016, newly registered PV power was 16 MW.
The Portuguese government is said to be developing a solar plan, the Plano Nacional Solar, which is expected to identify Portugal’s more suitable areas for the development of large-scale solar farms. Payment for this power no longer will include taxpayer subsidies. Details on how this programme will be implimented, remain unknown.
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