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Portugal moves up transition to renewable electricity by four years

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Solar Farm Alcoutim Portugal
Portugal is eager to build more solar farms, such as this one in the Eastern Algarve borough of Alcoutim. Image credit: Jenson/Shutterstock

Portugal had set itself a goal of renewable electricity making up an 80% share of its energy mix by 2030, but it’s now accelerating that plan by four years. 

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, countries around the world are reassessing their energy strategy to ensure they are less reliant on the likes of Russia and foreign events. The UK is set to unveil its energy strategy later today, which is likely to include more nuclear power stations, but Portugal is beating the UK to the punch with its own lofty ambitions. 

The country had set the goal of having the share of renewables in electricity production reach 80% by 2030, but it’s now determined to achieve that four years earlier in 2026, according to a report from Reuters

For those in any doubt, this decision is directly related to the war in Ukraine, as Portugal’s Cabinet Minister, Vieira da Silva made abundantly clear at a news conference, “Portugal has already taken very significant measures in the energy transition, but the evolution and duration of the war in Ukraine must necessarily imply new measures.”

However, Portugal is not as reliant on Russian imports as some other European nations. The country had already stopped the import of Russian crude in 2020, while its gas is mostly sourced from the US and Nigeria in liquid form. 

So, how does the country hope to achieve its ambitions of renewable electricity being responsible for 80% of the country’s needs? Well, it’s going to do so by investing heavily in solar. 

Currently, renewables make up 58% of all electricity generated in Portugal in 2022, which is an increase of 17% versus 2010 levels. To get that up an additional 22%, the country realises it needs to take advantage of its typically warm and sunny climate. 

Currently Portugal is estimated to have just 1.5 GW of solar deployed, while it enjoys 7.3 GW of generation from hydroelectric plants and 5.6 GW from onshore wind farms. The country is eager to boost solar to at least 9 GW by 2030 by cutting red tape, allowing projects with a capacity of under 50 MW to no longer require an environmental impact assessment.

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