Portugal has achieved a huge clean energy milestone by managing to keep its lights on for four consecutive days using renewable energy only, data analysis of national energy network figures has revealed.
Consumption of commercial electricity was fully covered by solar, wind and hydro power for a groundbreaking 107 hours, beginning at 6.45am on Saturday 7 May and ending at 5.45pm on the following Wednesday.
The landmark arrives shortly after Germany announced that it had generated enough clean energy to cover all of its electricity needs for Sunday 15 May. Several times during the day power prices actually reached negative figures, the huge amount of power being generated actually leading to consumers being paid to use it.
Wind Europe spokesman Oliver Joy said: “We are seeing trends like this spread across Europe – last year with Denmark and now in Portugal. The Iberian peninsula is a great resource for renewables and wind energy, not just for the region but for the whole of Europe.”
CEO of SolarPower Europe James Watson also commented: “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.”
According to the Portuguese renewable energy association, wind power provided 22% of all electricity, and all renewable resources combined provided 48% of the country’s energy last year.
Although the EU’s renewable energy targets for 2020 spurred on the clean energy surge, support schemes for new wind capacity in the country were actually reduced in 2012.
However, Portugal still managed to add another 550MW of wind power between 2013 and 2016, and industry groups are now looking to export the excess power to the rest of Europe, and beyond.
“An increased build-out of interconnectors, a reformed electricity market and political will are all essential,” Joy said. “But with the right policies in place, wind could meet a quarter of Europe’s power needs in the next 15 years.”
Wind power met 42% of Denmark’s electricity demand in 2015, with 20% met in Spain, 13% in Germany and 11% in the UK.
In a historic move however, UK citizens had their first ever week of coal-free electricity generation at the start of May 2016.
Watson said: “The age of inflexible and polluting technologies is drawing to an end and power will increasingly be provided from clean, renewable sources.”