Europe 2020 targets - Portugal

PORTUGAL: Portugal will reach its renewable energy action plan goal, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), and provide 31% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. With almost 6.9GW wind power capacity producing 14.6TWh by 2020, wind is expected to cover almost 23% of electricity consumption. EWEA points out that wind production capacity factors may have been underestimated in the national plan, so the final figure could be even higher than projected.

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The country has 3.9GW already installed, another 1GW is approved, and 975MW has yet to be awarded. The forecast for new wind capacity this year and next is to continue a steady growth. Then there will be a lull for a few years, with only 500MW expected online in 2015, of which 25MW will be the first offshore capacity. The remaining 50MW offshore will be installed in 2020.

The plan indicates that cross-border interconnection could improve the output of electricity from renewable sources, another area where targets could be exceeded, should this be borne out.

Meanwhile, actions to achieve the current goals are outlined. There will be calls for proposals for additional wind capacity from existing projects. New wind projects will be allocated, and investment made into innovation and the development of offshore wind technology.

More renewables

The Portuguese renewable energy association APREN believes that the country’s renewables targets are too low, and that electricity generated from renewables should be raised, with wind providing 30%. It would also like to see greater investment in solar power.

APREN notes that the national plan’s projections have not taken into account the economic crisis or savings resulting from energy efficiency measures. It considers that the wind power targets are exaggerated, pointing out there are not enough good locations on the ground for the planned wind parks.

APREN recommends simplifying the licensing process with the introduction of a one-stop-shop system, changing the environmental evaluations and awarding more connections. It also advocates the phasing out of the feed-in-tariffs and the introduction of a market price with an environmental premium.

In APREN’s view, awarding an additional 3GW of wind power by 2020 will depend on the following factors: electricity demand; penetration of electric vehicles; the ability to transfer consumption from peak to off-peak hours; the cost of offshore wind; and the environmental impact. The association also proposes a special tariff for offshore wind to encourage prospective investors.

Energy management

Many energy experts point out that Portugal will exceed its goals only if it is capable of exporting the surplus electricity from renewable sources. The peripheral position of Portugal and the existing limitations in power grid interconnection, especially between Spain and France, currently present an obstacle to this.

Jorge Vasconcelos, president of consultancy New Energy Solutions, says that Portugal must get more night energy from wind and hydro in order to respond to reduced consumption during the night hours.

A 2009 study of the country’s renewable energy sector suggests that better exploitation of its hydro potential would allow for sustainable development of wind energy, as the wind-hydro combination is critical to the stability and economic operational efficiency of the Portuguese electricity generation system.

However, CEO of power producer EDP, João Manso Neto, says that the national electricity system will continue to need conventional power sources to support production and minimise the risks of intermittent supply from renewable sources such as wind.

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