Thirty-one new solar power plants will be installed in Portugal with a total of over 1,000 MW of production capacity by 2021, according to an article on Dinheiro Vivo. The total value of the projects has been stated to be about 800 million euros.
“By 2021 we will be able to triple the solar capacity in Portugal, from the current 572 MW to close to 1600 MW,” said Jorge Seguro Sanches, Portugal’s Energy Secretary of State.
Portugal has already generated over 100% of its electricity needs using renewables, mostly from hydroelectric and wind power.
Of course, it’s sensible to balance these two forms with a third, especially because the cost of solar has dropped dramatically in recent years, so it is more available. Also, energy storage in the form of battery systems is becoming more affordable and they can be well-matched with solar power arrays.
Portugal’s goals is to run completely on renewable electricity, “Last month’s achievement is an example of what will happen more frequently in the near future. It is expected that by 2040 the production of renewable electricity will be able to guarantee, in a cost-effective way, the total annual electricity consumption of mainland Portugal,” stated the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association and the Sustainable Earth System Association.
One economic benefit of running completely on renewables is the cessation of fossil fuel subsidies, “Separately on Tuesday, the government suspended subsidies for guaranteed power supplies paid to producers, worth about 20 million euros a year, most of which goes to fossil fuel plants left in stand-by mode.”
Naturally, any excess electricity could be exported and this is exactly what has occurred,“In addition, the Portuguese electricity system had an export net balance of 249 GWh, which translates into almost 24 M€. The electricity export prices increased due to the emergency of the French electricity sector and to the adverse weather conditions in Central Europe.”
Renewable energy has been seen by some as only of environmental interest, but Portugal is showing that it can also have economic benefits.