This March, for the first time in the last four decades, Portugal’s renewable energy mainland production exceeded power demand, which is "unprecedented and is considered a historic milestone”, according to the to the statement released this Tuesday by the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association and the Environmental Association ZERO.
The data from power grid operator REN shows that the renewable electricity produced in March was 4,812 Gigawatt hours (GWh), surpassing the consumption of mainland Portugal of 4,647 GWh.
Renewable energy accounted for 103.6 % of electricity consumption last month, according to the statement.
While fossil fuel plants still worked for short periods to complement the electricity supply, those were fully compensated by other periods of greater renewable production.
“Last month’s achievement is an example of what will happen more frequently in the near future. It is expected that by 2040 the production of renewable electricity will be able to guarantee, in a cost-effective way, the total annual electricity consumption of mainland Portugal” the statement mentioned.
Hydroelectric dams in March accounted for 55% of the monthly consumption followed by wind power with 42%. Portugal, with its long Atlantic coast line, was one of the early pioneers in the mass use of wind power.
March saw four times the monthly average rainfall, ending a long period of severe drought in the country, according to the Portuguese Sea and Atmosphere Institute. The rainfall refilled most of the dams to levels of over 8%.
The renewable generation reduced Portugal’s carbon dioxide emissions by 1.8 million tons and helped the country’s export balance.
“These data, besides indicating a historical milestone in the Portuguese electricity sector, demonstrate that renewable energy can be relied upon as a secure and viable source to completely meet the country’s electricity demands”.