Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Portugal just ran for 4 straight days entirely on renewable energy

As renewable energy matures into an ever more popular and cost-effective source of electricity, we're getting used to seeing some historic achievements from nations that have ramped up their clean energy infrastructure – and the latest glory goes to Portugal.

Recent figures show that the country ran on renewable energy alone for four days straight this month, completing an extraordinary 107-hour run between Saturday morning, May 7, and early Wednesday evening, May 11. During this record-setting window, Portugal ran on solar, wind, and hydro electricity entirely, without needing to fall back on power sourced from its coal and natural gas plants.

The numbers, released by Portugal's ZERO System Sustainable Land Association in collaboration with the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association (APREN), indicate that the nation has come a long way in terms of embracing clean energy in recent decades, and could stand to even improve its environmental credentials in the near future.

"These data show that Portugal can be more ambitious in a transition to a net consumption of electricity from 100 percent renewable, with huge reductions of emissions of greenhouse gases, which cause global warming and consequent climate change," reads a statement on the ZERO website.

The news comes on the back of Germany hitting an amazing energy goal of its own in the same time frame: the country sourced 95 percent of its energy from renewable sources on Sunday, 8 May.
While that's perhaps not quite as impressive as Portugal's 100-percent effort – for four consecutive days, no less – it was still enough to send local power prices in Germany into the negative, meaning commercial customers were actually being paid to use up electricity.

These kinds of records won't be going away any time soon, either, with Portugal's capability to rely entirely on solar, wind, and hydro power for days at a time expected to be a sign of things to come across Europe, as the renewable market becomes even more pervasive.

If you keep an eye on the headlines, you'll see nations across Europe are a part of this momentum, ranging from Scotland ramping up its wind power sector, to Austria's booming hydro industry.

"[Portugal's effort] is a significant achievement for a European country, but what seems extraordinary today will be commonplace in Europe in just a few years," CEO of SolarPower Europe James Watson told Arthur Neslen at The Guardian. "The energy transition process is gathering momentum and records such as this will continue to be set and broken across Europe."

Elsewhere in the world, sun-drenched nations are also stepping up to the plate, with countries like India turning to solar over its traditional coal-based power industry.

If things keep going like this, the world could be on track to source more than a quarter of its energy requirements from renewables by the end of the decade.

Let's do this, people!