Image: José Coelho/ Lusa

No time to lose in combatting climate change – PM

Investment in renewables energies “decisive”

Portugal’s prime minister António Costa said today there is “no time to lose” in the fight against climate change.

In Ribeira de Pena for the inauguration of the Tâmega gigabattery hydroelectric complex –  which includes three dams – Mr Costa insisted the time has come for a new energy policy to reinforce energy efficiency.

“We really have no time to lose in the fight against climate change and what this implies in a new mobility policy, a new policy to reinforce energy efficiency and, above all, in the growing investment in renewable energies”, he said.

Portugal “is in a particular position, unfortunately, to understand the urgency and the climate emergency and all the ways in which climate change is reflected.

“We are among the regions that have suffered most from coastal erosion, we are among the countries that have suffered most from increased drought and we know that we are one of the countries where the risk of forest fires has increased the most,” he stressed.

“Even if humankind manages to achieve, on time, the goal set in the Paris agreements for containing the increase in global temperature by 1.5ºC – even if we manage to achieve this goal, the risk of forest fires will still increase six times in our country,” he stressed.

Therefore the investment in renewable energy will be “immediately decisive” in combatting climate change and, in this gigabattery of Tâmega, “the results are quite measurable”, he said.

“With this investment we will reduce the equivalent of 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)”.

With a capacity of 1,158 megawatts (MW), the Tâmega Electrical Production System is capable of storing 40 million kilowatts (KWh) – equivalent to the energy consumed by 11 million people during a 24-hour period in their homes – making it one of the largest energy storage systems in Europe. 

The complex brings together three hydroelectric plants and three dams. In Daivões and Gouvães the project is concluded and, in Alto Tâmega, it should be concluded within two years.

For António Costa, “investing in renewable energies is also fundamental on an economic level”.

“We don’t have natural gas, we don’t have oil, fossil fuels, and therefore we import all the energy we consume. But on the contrary we have water resources, solar and wind power, we can produce the energy we consume ourselves and we may even one day produce enough energy for us to stop being energy importers and become energy exporters,” he said.

For the prime minister this “case is very exemplary”. “This Iberdrola gigabattery allows us to produce energy and above all allows us to import 160,000 tonnes less of oil to produce the same amount of energy”, he said.

When other European countries are discussing whether or not to resume electricity production from fossil sources, such as coal, we look at this project and say: this Iberdrola investment alone will produce energy equivalent to the Sines coal plant that was closed last year.

“That is why we can tell the whole of Europe that Portugal is now a country free from coal-based energy production,” he stressed.

The Tâmega Electrical Production System is considered to be one of the largest hydroelectric projects in Europe.

According to Iberdrola it represents a total investment of €1.5 billion and will involve “many companies and workers during construction”.

The undertaking represents more than 50% of the objective of the national programme of dams with high hydroelectric potential (PNBEPH).

Source: LUSA