Portugal

Portugal

Are Portugal's offshore wind projections ambitious or absurd?

The offshore wind investment plan, presented to Portugal's parliament this month, has been met with widespread scepticism.

Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy? (pic: Principle Power)
Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy? (pic: Principle Power)

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The Portuguese government’s national investment programme (PNI2030) included projections of private-sector investments of over €1 billion in offshore renewables in the next decade.

EDPR, the lead company developing Portugal’s only current offshore wind project, the 25MW pre-commercial WindFloat Atlantic plant, affirmed that it has no knowledge of any existing plans to develop other offshore wind farms.

António Sá da Costa, president of the Portuguese renewables sector association APREN, told Windpower Monthly: "No one is going to step forward to invest in offshore until we see what happens to the second phase of the WindFloat — unless public support is forthcoming from the EU."

"How could we invest €1 billion over the next ten years if the driver is to produce electricity as cheaply as possible?

"I sincerely doubt any private investor is going to invest in offshore before the existing opportunities in solar and repowering onshore wind are fully exploited," he added.

Although floating turbines have proved their reliability in tough weather conditions off the Atlantic coast, the economic conditions don’t yet exist in Portugal to drive a major expansion of offshore of the kind seen, for example, in the UK.

Solar power, which still has major growth potential in Portugal, offers a more cost-efficient alternative for at least the next decade.

In projecting the potential growth of different renewables technologies over the next three decades the Portuguese government’s Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality 2050 published at the end of 2018 shows offshore wind capacity growing to 400MW by 2030 and to 1.9 GW by 2050.

"I sincerely doubt any private investor is going to invest in offshore before the existing opportunities in solar and repowering onshore wind are fully exploited"
— António Sá da Costa, president, APREN

It seems likely that the €1.15 billion investment in offshore renewables by 2030 included in PNI2030 could have been based on this projection.

However the roadmap also states that offshore wind will not become cost-efficient in Portugal until the decade from 2030 to 2040.

Francisco Ferreira, one of the team responsible for drawing up the roadmap, told Windpower Monthly: "We have the impression it was wishful thinking by the ministry for the sea."

The ministry was jointly involved in drawing up PNI2030 alongside the environment/energy and planning/infrastructure ministries.

"On the other hand it’s good that we have this target and it’s good to have initiatives highlighting that offshore wind will play an important role in the future," he added.

Neither the environment nor the planning ministries were prepared to comment on the credibility of the investment projection for offshore renewables in the PNI2030.

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