Portugal runs for four days straight on renewable energy alone

Windfarm over a lake, Fraguinha, São Pedro Sul. Credit: Artur Tomaz /Flickr

Portugal has made a significant step in its bid to become entirely reliant on renewable energy sources after running for 107 hours without using any fossil fuels.

The entire country’s electricity consumption was fully covered by sustainable electricity from solar, wind and hydro power from 6.45am on Saturday 7 May until 5.45pm on Wednesday 11 May according to figures from the data analysis of national energy network.

Speaking to The Independent, Francisco Ferreira, President of Portuguese sustainability NGO Zero said; “Portugal has been investing considerably in renewables, particularly in electricity, since this will be the main final energy within the next decades with the transition from fossil fuels in road transportation to electric vehicles.”

Ferreira cited the expansion of Portugal’s on-shore wind facilities and increased investment in renewable energy storage to handle wind production variability as reasons for hitting this milestone.

“The electricity system can now achieve 100% of renewable electricity being produced and even export.

“However, this was the first time that it happened for such a long period, due to particular meteorological conditions and the great management performance of the electricity network.”

James Watson, the CEO of SolarPower Europe said: “This is a significant achievement for a European country, but what seems extraordinary today will be commonplace in Europe in just a few years. The energy transition process is gathering momentum and records such as this will continue to be set and broken across Europe.”

Solar power is expected to play a significant role in Portugal’s sustainable energy efforts, as it receives the most sunshine in Europe, along with improved energy efficiency.

As recently as 2013, Portugal generated half its electricity from combustible fuels, with 27% coming from nuclear, 13% from hydro, 7.5% from wind and 3% from solar, according to Eurostat figures.

In 2009 an EU directive set a target of a 31 per cent share of renewable energy sources to be part of Portugal’s energy mix by 2020.

Only Austria, Latvia, Finland and Sweden are expected to have a higher share by 2020, while the UK, comparatively, has a target of 15 per cent.