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Solar vs Oil – government’s dual initiative continues to confuse

pvPortugal’s Minister for the Environment and Energy Transition, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, said at the Madrid energy transition conference (HERE) that Portugal’s emphasis will be on solar power in order to reach the goal of 47% of energy from renewables by 2030.

According to the Ministry today, the clearing of energy production licenses will be finalised “in the short term” with 20 solar plants capable of starting in 2019.

There were 38 solar energy projects planned but the ministry has been reviewing them as it rightly suspected that some applications were of a speculative nature.

The ministry said that, in addition to the 20 cleared for licensing, “there are others that, due to the fact that they had licences authorised at the end of 2018, are in the process of commissioning the work.”

This progress is in stark contrast to the government’s overt and covert battle to ensure oil and gas companies are allowed to activate their concession agreements in the face of stiff legal opposition from environmental groups, such as ASMAA.

Regarding the Galp-ENI consortium’s alleged withdrawal from drilling in the ocean off Aljezur, ASMAA reported this week (HERE) that the ministry stated to Loulé Court that it was, “to their knowledge that Galp-ENI had indeed indicated an intention to abandon offshore drilling concessions,” adding that this matter was not straightforward or even linear, and is still under discussion.

The ministry confirmed that the statements made by the concession holders, were only “manifestations of intent in a labyrinthine process which is still in the administrative phase.”

If the government is dedicated to establishing a leading role for Portugal in renewable energy production, with solar at the top of the list, withdrawing its legal and political support to the oil sector would be a notable and welcome first step.