APREN and ZERO claim for more renewables in 2018
APREN – Portuguese Renewable Energy Association and ZERO – Sustainable Earth System Association take stock of the sector in 2017 and call for a consistent bet on endogenous and renewable energies, as a way to increase the country's energy autonomy, in line with the objectives of decarbonization of the Paris Agreement, which limit earth’s temperature increase to 2.0 ° C.
2017 was a year full of challenges for the electricity sector, as the extreme drought condition demonstrated the importance and necessity of a diversified energy mix, in which the interconnections with the outside and the hydroelectric pumping have played a key role in the prices and security of supply regulations.
The production of electricity from renewable sources in mainland Portugal accounted for only 44% of electricity consumption, but added significant gains to the sector's economy, of which the following stand out:
- The reduction of the average price of electricity traded in the wholesale market of about €18.3/MWh, which represents a benefit for the consumer in 2017 of €727 million ;
- Savings in the import of €770 million of fossil fuels, and, consequently, increase of energy self-sufficiency;
- The avoidance of the emission of 8.5 million tons of CO2, 82.5 thousand tons of CH4 and 8.25 tons of N2O, among other gaseous components.
Wind power was the renewable technology that generated more electricity - 11.9 TWh, followed by electricity from water sources (7.3 TWh), bioenergy (2.8 TWh) and solar photovoltaic (0.8 TWh).
António Sá da Costa, President of APREN, states that: "The benefits of renewables have once again far exceeded their costs, making them the most cost-effective solution for the national electricity system. However, in 2017, the additions of new power were residual, especially in the case of solar, which only grew 3%.”
It was an historic year for hydroelectric pumping, due to the full exploitation of the new uses of V. Nova III and Foz Tua, which allowed to level market prices and avoid situations of possible supply disruption," concludes António Sá da Costa".;
Francisco Ferreira, President of ZERO, considers that: "Portugal must invest much more in energy efficiency and renewable energy to be carbon neutral by 2050, and this investment has to be accelerated. The use of solar energy is crucial, and it is necessary to inform, simplify and overcome the obstacles that prevent us from having many more buildings with roofs filled with photovoltaic panels or, in the case of large solar parks, giving preference to areas with no other significant use.
"It is critical to ensure that investments are made in an environmentally sustainable way, by not exploiting quality biomass to other more relevant industrial uses in the circular economy context, or by destroying forest which are important for carbon sequestration," says Francisco Ferreira.
Record emissions in 2017
The emissions associated with the production of non-renewable electricity in 2017 were of approximately 19.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, an increase of about 4 million tons over last year’s same period (+ 25%). With the effects of drought on electricity production and large areas of burning, 2017 is the year with the highest greenhouse gas emissions in Portugal since the beginning of the decade. In 2017, for each kWh consumed was emitted 360 g of CO2.
In sum, the increase in emissions between 2016 and 2017 was of about 20%, resulting from the fires (+7.1 million tons) and the increase in the production of electricity of fossil origin.
Prospects for 2018
APREN and ZERO believe that it is important to consolidate and extend the integration of new endogenous and renewable energies into our energy mix, since this is the only way of achieving greater security of supply, less dependence on the price volatility of imported fossil fuels and the minimization of emissions.
By 2018 it is expected a great development of solar photovoltaic electricity and bioenergy, which are essential conditions to take advantage of the country's high potential regarding solar irradiation and forest biomass.
In the case of solar photovoltaic, it is worth noting the continued and important reduction of price in the last years (about 7 times in the last 10 years) what puts this technology in the ranking of the most competitive. It is therefore important that, in 2018, Portugal can position itself as a driver of this technology through policies and legislative conditions that promote its development.
On the other hand, the devastating fires of 2017 highlight the need for better land management and an effective collection system of exclusively residual biomass. In this sense, both associations welcome the new National Forest Defense Plan against Fires, which provides, among other initiatives, for the development of new biomass power plants, distributed by the municipalities with the highest potential, anticipating that 2018 will be marked by a sustainable exploration of national bioenergy.
Decarbonization of the Portuguese Economy
It is expected that, following the announcement of Portugal's accession to the Powering Past Coal Alliance created at COP23 - in which its subscribers undertake to close their coal-fired power plants by 2030 - and with the declaration by our Prime Minister and Minister for the Environment of the objective of carbon neutrality in 2050, the year 2018 could be marked by concrete actions and measures with a greater climate ambition, in line with the objective outlined, which will potentiate the transition to a carbon-free economy.