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REN, the Portuguese grid operator, has just released new figures that show that nearly three quarters of the country’s energy needs were met by renewable energy sources during the first three months of the year.
Portugal was able to generate 70% of its electricity needs in the first quarter of 2013 due to a combination of favourable weather conditions and huge investment in wind and hydro-electric projects over recent years.
Portugal’s hydroelectric generating capacity has increased by 312% over the last year, now accounting for 37% of Portugal’s total energy consumption, and wind energy rose 60% in the same timeframe, providing 27% of the nation’s energy demand.
Related article: Have Canadian Researchers Cracked How to Store Renewable Energy?
The hugely increased contribution from renewable energy has meant that demand for fossil fuel sources have fallen. Coal-fired power stations now contribute 29% less electricity to the grid and natural gas-fired power stations contribute 44% less, compared to the first quarter of 2012. It is very likely that this reduction in fossil fuel use has led to a significant drop in carbon emissions.
Over recent years Portugal’s energy demand has been falling by around 6%, but in the first quarter of 2013 that shrank to a decrease of just 0.4%, and then energy demand grew by 4.7% in March. The energy demand initially fell due to the economic slowdown, but now the country’s economy has grown a little due to the new ability to export the excess energy; this could be the reason for the recent increase in demand.
This achievement by Portugal is likely to be a world record for a major economy.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com