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INSIGHTS / THE BIG PICTURE

Harnessing its innovative startups, Portugal builds a better cleantech ecosystem

Portugal · Aug 01, 2019 · By Gareth Gardiner Jones

With help from government and private-sector initiatives, Portuguese cleantech startups are playing an ever-increasing role in helping the country meet its energy challenges while cutting harmful greenhouse gases

The overwhelming majority of countries in the world, including the European Union's 28 member states, have been striving for decades to lower their greenhouse gas emissions and shift to less harmful energy sources. With ample sunshine and wind resources, especially offshore, Portugal has long been onboard in fighting climate change and taking action domestically to be part of the solution.

Both EU-wide and national initiatives provide a carrot-and-stick approach to adaptation and innovation in energy use. Under the latest EU-wide directive, the bloc is obliged to ensure that at least 32% of its energy supply is generated by renewables by 2030, with each country mandated to draft 10-year National Energy & Climate Plans by the end of 2019, to ensure compliance by each state.

Under its previous government, which was intent on slashing costs to meet strict austerity targets, Portugal was off-track to meet its target for 2020 of producing 31% of its energy consumed through renewables. However, in late 2018, the Socialist government, which took power in November 2015, presented its plan to cover 80% of its total power demand with renewable energies by 2030 and 100% by 2050 – the first EU country to make the pledge.

Soon afterward, the country was rewarded with the renewable industry's “Renewable Energies Trophy” for its ambitious new targets, and, in March this year, produced enough renewable energy to cover its entire energy needs for the month.

Boost for solar sector

Solar power is expected to make a large and ever-increasing contribution to the target and, for that reason, the Portuguese government held its first-ever auction for solar energy in July, when 24 licenses were up for grabs to supply 1,400 megawatts (MW) of energy, almost double the country's current solar production capacity.

Edited by Matt Stanley and Vincent J Morkri

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