45 percent of the electricity in Portugal?s grid will come from renewable sources

When is green more than just a word on a colour palette?

When Ana Maria Fernandes is talking about the future of renewable energy.

The Chief Executive of Portugal’s EDP Renewables (EDPR) energy company, Fernandes oversees the world’s third largest wind power company.

“At EDPR, we are world-leaders in designing developing, managing and operating power plants that generate electricity using renewable energy sources. We are certain that enhancing the value of, and investing in, alternative and renewable energies are assets for economic growth in a national and international context,” Fernandes was reported as saying.

“I firmly believe that renewable energy provides a significant contribution to our planet’s sustainable needs.”

And she’s not alone. Five years ago, Portugal’s leaders embarked on an ambitious strategy to reduce their country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, primarily by harnessing Portugal’s wind and hydropower, but also its sunlight and ocean waves. Today, almost 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources, up from 17 percent just five years ago.

In the driver’s seat has been Portugal’s lack of fossil fuel and rising standard of living. Not to mention that the cost of energy imports – principally oil and gas – has doubled in the last decade, accounting for 50 percent of the country’s trade deficit.

It’s why EDPR, which was listed on the stock exchange in 2008, has so aggressively pursed contracts to supply wind energy globally.

Including last year’s wind turbine procurement contract for the supply of up to 2,100 megawatts (MW) to be delivered to North America, South America and Europe in 2011 and 2012 with the possibility of extending it by an additional 600 MW.

“This agreement is one of the largest ever announced. It enables EDPR to have a competitive edge within the wind developing industry,” says Fernandes.

And through its subsidiary Horizon Wind Energy, EDPR entered into a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with the US’s Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to sell 115 MW of renewable wind energy from EDPR’s Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm in Iowa. This energy will be supplied to homes and businesses in TVA’s service area in parts of seven southeastern states.

“This agreement is a significant one for us. We look forward to a long partnership with TVA to supply their customers with pollution-free wind energy.”

Looking forward, Fernandes, who has helmed the company since March 2008, says he future looks rosy for EDPR.

“With a sound development pipeline, first class assets and market-leading operational capacity, EDPR has undergone exceptional development in the last few years and is well poised to take on the challenges of providing renewable energy for the world.”

It’s one of the topics Fernandes will be covering at the NG Power & Renewables Summit 2011 which takes place at the Corinthia Hotel, Budapest in Hungary from 12-14 April.

This closed-door summit, hosted by GDS International, features some of the leading voices in the European power and renewables sector, including:

* Michael Lewis – Managing Director Europe – E.ON Climate and Renewables
* Paul Coffey – COO – RWE Innogy
* Professor Arthourous Zeruos – President of European Renewable Council
* Oliver Weinmann – CEO Innovation Europe – Vattenfall, and
* Kent Nystrom – President World Bio-Energy Association.

Along with the growth of green energy, other topics on the agenda include how R&D can deliver a low carbon future, utility solar business models and the challenge of integrating renewables into the grid.

NG Power & Renewables Summit 2011 is an exclusive C-level event reserved for 100 participants that includes expert workshops, facilitated roundtables, peer-to-peer networks and co-ordinated meetings.