Portugal’s Green Milestone: A Weekend Fueled Exclusively by Renewables


Amidst the competition of who is switching faster, one country powered the entire nation without using a single watt of non-renewable energy for a whole weekend. Yes, the first weekend of November, the world witnessed something extraordinary when Portugal powered the nation for a weekend from renewables. During that time, around 172.5 GWh was produced primarily from hydro and wind power. The country consumed 131.1 GWh and exported the surplus energy to Spain. Portugal aims to completely shift to renewables for power needs by 2040.

Between Friday night and Monday morning, the country generated around 172.5 GWh of renewable electricity mostly from hydroelectric and wind power. Out of which, only 131.1 GWh energy was used in the meantime. According to the Redes Energשticas Nacionais (REN), Portugal’s grid operator, during this time, wind power generated around 97.6 GWh, solar generated 6.6 GWh, and hydroelectricity generated around 68.6 GWh. The excess of this energy was sold to Spain.

Redes Energשticas Nacionais mentioned in a statement, “Taking advantage of favorable wind and rain conditions, electricity consumption in Portugal has been entirely provided by renewable sources, primarily wind and hydroelectric power, since 10:30 PM on Friday. Surplus production has been exported through the connection with Spain.”

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Portugal’s Previous Achievement

Other than this milestone, Portugal has achieved several other milestones too in this journey.

  • 2016 – The entire nation relied on renewables for the first time for 4 days
  • 2018 – Their renewable energy generation exceeded 103.6% of their total energy demand.

An associate professor in sustainable development at Heriot-Watt University, Ran Boydell, said, “This is impressive, but it will soon be commonplace. The ability of countries to run on 100% renewable energy depends on three things: Renewables potential, installed capacity, and grid preparedness.”

Professor Ran further explained, Renewables potential: the natural resources they have available in terms of wind, hydro, solar etc. and whilst some are better off than others all countries have some generation potential.”

Installed capacity: just because they have the potential it doesn’t mean they have made the effort to install the equipment. Hydro is the most mature technology and is often installed as part of dams which were also built to deliver flood prevention or water storage, so it’s not surprising that the countries with the most installed capacity have a large reliance on hydro.”

Grid preparedness: the network infrastructure needs to operate differently with dispersed renewable supply, so for the whole country to be fully operating on renewables, rather than just in localized areas around where the generation occurs, the grid needs to be able to distribute that electricity.”

Portugal powered the nation for a weekend from renewables, but it is astounding that 88% of the energy needs of the nation this January were fulfilled by renewables and before that around 52%. Among these, Portugal expects to generate around 80% of its annual electricity consumed from renewable sources as early as 2026. Moreover, they are planning to run the entire nation on renewables by 2040.

As Associaקףo Portuguesa de Energias Renovסveis (APREN) said in a translated statement in 2018, “It is expected that by 2040 the production of renewable electricity will be able to guarantee, in a cost-effective manner, the entire annual electricity consumption of mainland Portugal. However, the occasional use of natural gas plants will still be necessary, in addition to the crucial support of interconnections and the increasingly important role of electricity storage.”

Source: Portugal has been consuming green electricity for more than 24 hours

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