Portugal Matures Into Formidable International Trendsetter With Sweeping Clean Energy Initiatives

The country is quickly emerging as a "green" trendsetter due to its determination to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels by channeling its wind power, solar, and hydropower resources and by improving smart grid capabilities and exploring the use of electric vehicles — even though such clean energy transitions have come at substantial financial costs.

"Germany is well-regarded as a green energy leader with its hefty share of the total installed wind energy capacity in Europe. But it’s Portugal that has us excited, and we anticipate enormous growth in the country’s generation of wind power due in large part to government stimulus incentives," says Shelley Carr, publisher of SBI Energy, which released the market study Offshore Wind Farm Manufacturing Worldwide in April 2010. "Though Portugal’s efforts come at a price, one must remember that this is a region with prodigious wind and water power resources, both of which are widely regarded as the most cost-effective to harness."

In terms of world numbers for smart meter installations, some industry estimates see a fivefold rise — from roughly 50 million in 2010 to 250 million by 2015. Much of this huge and rapid increase in smart meter installs will take place in Europe, according to SBI Energy’s Smart Grid and Consumers. Other sources reveal that five years ago only 17% of Portugal’s smart grid power originated from clean energy resources, but that number could rise to almost half of the nation’s smart grid power by the end of 2010.

Meanwhile, Portugal is making progress on the electric vehicle front. "There is tremendous optimism that Portugal could become the first nation with a national network of charging stations for electric cars," says Carr. SBI Energy’s Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Manufacturing reveals that the European Union-sponsored Sagittaire is running demonstrations of hybrid buses in eleven cities across France, Spain, Portugal, Norway, and Italy. In each city, the hybrid-electric bus fleet will be tested under different operational and practical conditions. In addition, Portugal is involved in the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s zero-emissions vehicle initiatives that are sweeping Asia and the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Israel, Denmark, and Monaco.

And with automakers in Europe planning new business models for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids before 2011 that could completely overhaul its electric vehicle transportation infrastructure by eliminating the need for gas stations and relinquish fueling responsibilities to utility companies, Portugal has steadfastly proven itself a willing participant and test projects are in development for the country.