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Renewable energy collaboration


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A US Environmental Protection Agency officer visiting Lisbon last week said that a formal research and collaboration agreement between the United States and Portugal could soon become a reality.

Amy Zimpfer P.E told The Resident that she was impressed at just how far Portugal was down the renewable and sustainable energy development road and said that there were “lessons” that could be translated to the United States.

“I was pleasantly impressed. There are so many similarities between Portugal and California, particularly San Francisco, both in terms of geophysics and climate, and I think we can examine how we can learn from one another,” she said.

“I have a very strong impression that Portugal is working towards meeting its environmental commitments that have been issued under European Union directives on both climate change and emissions, and that she is investing significantly in renewable energy,” she added.

Scientist Amy Zimpfer was in Portugal to participate in the Embassy Science Fellow Programme sponsored by the United States State Department.

Speaking at the United States Embassy in Lisbon shortly before a round-table workshop on these issues and climate alteration in Portugal with other Portuguese scientists, she said that she had seen “extensive investment” in wind energy, some hydro-electric projects, a pilot project to harness wave energy off the north coast of Portugal, and solar energy, all of which provided “excellent opportunities”.

“Just like in the United States, the full potential has yet to be exploited and there are tremendous opportunities for further investment in all of these areas,” she said. “I’ve had an opportunity to learn about energy efficiency efforts here in Portugal, in particular surrounding eco-friendly buildings meeting the new regulations coming into force.

“I see many areas for potential future collaboration between our two countries, in particular in the area of renewable energy, so I’m pretty confident we are going to have some kind of formal memorandum agreement between the US Department of Energy and government ministries here in Portugal on renewable energy,” she said.

Pilot projects

Amy Zimpfer anticipates that areas of opportunity will be identified for collaboration and then pilot projects could follow, perhaps involving technical exchanges.

In the United States, there is a laboratory called the National Renewable Energy Laboratory where there are a number of scientists working on and testing a whole range of technologies, and there could be some combined projects and join efforts, perhaps even something in the area of monitoring.

“It seems to me that the opportunities for wind-driven energy are extremely ripe right now in Portugal and there are technologies that I think should be developed and tried,” she added.

There were a lot of companies looking at the commercial application of renewable energies, both in Portugal and the US, particularly in solar energy, where there is a large solar park in southern Portugal.

“I understand there is the potential for two different types of solar investment in Portugal: one involves a residential application such as solar panels on the roofs of houses, the other large scale, large investment solar projects such as the ones we are starting to see in the deserts of California, Arizona and Nevada,” she said.

However, the scientist believed that wave energy still had “some way to go” as a technology that “would really permeate the market”.

“I saw a pilot project in the Azores which really didn’t function well, in fact it is pretty much shut down in terms of a commercial venture,” she concluded.

Next week: Renewable energy and the United States experience.

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