Portugal aims for 100% renewables by 2050

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Portugal’s Minister of Environment and the Energy Transition João Pedro Matos Fernandes has presented the country’s new plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 – the so-called “Roteiro para a Neutralidade Carbónica 2050.”

It envisages Portugal covering 100% of its total power demand with renewable energies by 2050, thus reducing C02 emissions by between 85% and 99% compared to 2005 levels.

“Portugal will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, through the implementation of measures related to increasing electrification of the economy to 65%, solar energy production, reducing industrial emissions of greenhouse gases by 70% or waste urban areas by 25%,” the Portuguese Government said in a statement.

As an intermediate goal, the plan includes covering 80% of the country’s total power demand with clean energy by 2030.

“Our energy dependence from abroad is now 75%. In 2030 it will be 65% and in 2050 17%,” the minister said, adding, “The use of oil, which now exceeds 65 million barrels per year, will not exceed 10 million in 2050, year where it will no longer be used for land mobility.”

That solar may play a prominent role in the country’s energy mix over the next three decades depends not only on the success of PV technology and its prospects to deliver significant cost declines in both the near and distant future, but also on the fact that, compared to other clean energy sources such as wind and hydropower, it has so far had a minimal share.

At the end last September, Portugal’s total registered renewable energy generation capacity reached 13.83 GW. Hydropower comprises the largest share with around 7.1 GW, followed by wind at 5.34 GW, biomass at 580 MW and PV at 590 MW, according to the Portuguese Directorate General for Energy and Geology (DGEG). Not all of the registered PV capacity, however, is currently connected to the grid.

In order to increase solar’s share, the Portuguese Government is currently planning to hold the country’s first renewable energy auction, in which solar will be entitled to compete, in the second quarter of next year.

As of the end of August, the total capacity of approved large-scale PV projects totaled around 1 GW, while a further 1.7 GW of projects for solar parks were being reviewed by local environmental authorities.