Portugal, the quiet wind energy star

Bereft of any conventional energy sources, Portugal turned to its winds and rivers. Today, it gets more of its electricity from wind power (14.8%) than anywhere except Denmark.

At the end of 2010, there were 3,898 MW of wind farm capacity installed in Portugal – all onshore wind turbines, and mostly in the mountainous, sparsely populated north-east.

Fuel imports once made up around half of Portugal’s trade deficit. From around 2000, the country decided to focus more on indigenous, renewable sources of energy to reduce that deficit.

In 2005, Portugal set a wind energy target of 5,100 MW by 2013. In 2005, the government launched a call for tenders for grid connection for wind farm projects, and a feed-in tariff to give investors stability.

There is very little NIMBYism in Portugal.

“Wind farms are typically located in less developed areas and they are a means of income for those renting out their land to the developers”, explains Gabriel Nebreda from Portugal’s EDP.

However there are some questions over the strict environmental procedures, and the country’s relative isolation in terms of the electricity grid.

Despite issues like this and the current political uncertainty, Portugal has stated its aim to have 6,900 MW of wind farm capacity by 2020. This would provide 23% of Portugal’s electricity.

By Sarah Azau, blog.ewea.org/