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The the country was powered solely by renewable energy for three days straight in mid-March. These impressive feats demonstrate that Portugal is well on its way to meeting its 2020 renewable energy targets.
As part of the Europe 2020 strategy, the EU enacted legislation in 2009 which included a commitment to achieving a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels. Under this plan, each member state was obligated to set national targets for increasing the share of their country’s total energy consumption accounted for by renewable energy. In Portugal’s case, the 2020 target was set at 31%. In terms of gross final energy consumption, Portugal has the 7th highest percentage of the incorporation of renewable energy sources among the 28 member states. The country’s bounty of natural resources and geographic location has enabled it to become a leader in the production of hydroelectric and wind power. These two sources alone made up 97% of electricity consumption in March. As a result, it is no doubt that Portugal will comfortably meet its 2020 renewable energy targets.
In additional to the environmental benefits, there are several other positive ripple effects that come with Portugal’s transition to a green economy. The country does not have any fossil fuel reserves nor does it produce any nuclear energy. As such, it has been historically reliant on energy imports. However, a shift towards renewable energy minimizes this dependency and increases the country’s energy
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The potential economic rewards of going green are also quite notable. For instance, Portuguese electricity prices are some of the highest in the European Union, due in part to the fact that power was generated from imported fossil fuels in years past. However, electricity prices will likely fall as a larger share of energy is produced domestically. This, in turn, will increase citizens’ disposable income and reduce operating costs for businesses. Furthermore, the European Union estimates that achieving the 2020 renewable energy targets could result in the direct or indirect creation of 100,000 new jobs. The future in Portugal is looking increasingly green. While the renewable energy sector has experienced some setbacks, last month’s achievement demonstrates the country is serious about weaning itself off fossil fuel imports. Moreover, Portugal’s success is a reminder to the rest of the world that the transition towards an economy based entirely on renewable resources isn’t beyond its reach.