Energy Transition: How Portugal ran on Renewable Energy for Six Days Straight

The European country generated more renewable energy than its electricity needs during this period

At the recently concluded COP 28 UN climate summit in Dubai, UAE, countries agreed to a deal that called on all nations to transition away from fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas, to prevent the adverse effects of climate change.

Before the agreement, a country in Europe has already started planning for a world without fossil fuels, by making clear its intentions to adopt a renewables-powered future.

Between October 31 and November 6, 2023, the entire country of Portugal ran on renewable energy for six consecutive days. A UK Independent report noted that the six-day run produced more renewable energy than the entire country needed for electricity, which paves a path to a more sustainable future.

According to a Mashable report, the state’s National Electric system ran entirely on energy from wind, hydropower, and the sun – for 149 hours straight.

In those six consecutive days, Portugal reportedly produced 1102 GWh of renewable energy, which exceeded its demand of 840 GWh, and allowed it to even export some electricity to Spain. It had also set a similar record in 2019 when it ran on renewables for 131 hours.

An industry expert in the UK, Ged Barlow, attributed Portugal’s success to multiple factors. “The country is blessed with abundant renewable sources, such as wind and solar energy, which they have strategically harnessed. This, in combination with their commitment to renewable energy, has allowed them to generate surplus electricity. Furthermore, their focus on energy efficiency and innovation has contributed to their remarkable success,” Barlow was quoted by the Independent.

About 60 percent of Portugal’s energy is said to come from renewable sources, while the rest is supplied by natural gas. However, by 2030, the country plans to generate 85 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, cut off the use of gas by 2040 and run solely on renewables by 2045.

Prior to its current clean energy record, the European country had also in May 2016 powered its lights on renewable energy alone for four days straight.

“This is a significant achievement for a European country, but what seems extraordinary today will be commonplace in Europe in just a few years. The energy transition process is gathering momentum and records such as this will continue to be set and broken across Europe,” the CEO of SolarPower Europe, James Watson, had said in 2016.

With the COP28 agreement, and Africa accounting for considerable reserves of fossil fuels – oil, coal and natural gas, a just energy transition and the mass use of renewable energy sources remain critical areas for countries on the continent.

In 2019, according to data from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Africa accounts for 17.0% of the global population but only for 3.4% of global energy consumption, while the European Union represents 5.8% of the global population but accounts for 10.4% of global energy consumption.


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