Renewable energy tops government’s priority list

By: Chris Graeme

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THE PORTUGUESE government is fully committed to exploiting renewable and sustainable energy sources in the coming year.

Speaking at a major seminar on January 16 at the city’s Dom Pedro Hotel, the Portuguese Under-Secretary of State for Industry, António Castro Guerra promised that: “2007 would be full-on, in terms of renewable energy initiatives.”

In his keynote speech, the minister said that there would be a further 200 mega watts (MW) of wind-driven energy in Portugal, 150 MW of solar energy, while the government would press ahead wave power generation projects in the coming year.


Highlighting the government’s record on environmentally friendly energy initiatives since the PS government took the helm in March 2005, Guerra underlined the successful launch of the Iberian Electricity Market (MIBEL) in July 2006, following several setbacks.

“In this way, the Portuguese government has sent out clear signals for the creation of an internal Iberian market, which is one of Brussels key priorities,” he said.

The European Union, in particular its European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, have said that the power monopolies in the EU needed to be broken up to allow fair competition and cheaper energy pricing in Europe.

But, with electricity prices so artificially low in Portugal, prices would have to be initially increased by around 12 per cent in order to encourage foreign competition before market forces gave consumers a better deal.

The Portuguese government is optimistic at the support and keenness shown by the EU for the MIBEL move.


“Only this week I received a letter from the Commission saying that it would fully support solutions for the interconnection between the two sides of the Pyrenees that up until now have remained completely blocked,” said the Secretary of State.

Guerro also said that Portugal was the one country in Europe, which had most actively pursued the separation of energy companies: generators, suppliers and network carriers.

On the question of production mixes as a solution in reducing Portugal’s external dependence on energy sources, Castro Guerra pointed out that licences had already been granted for the construction of natural gas turbine driven generators which, from 2009, would give the Portuguese energy network an additional 3,574 MW boost.

Other issues discussed were:

• EDP’s receipt of its first license to construct two gas-turbine cyclic generators providing 860 MW at Figueira da Foz in Coimbra, at an investment of 400 million euros.

• A total of nine companies given the green light to transfer 405,000 tons of bio-waste into renewable energy.

• Nuclear power firmly put off the government’s agenda because of pricing, security and management concerns.

Francisco Van Zeller, president of the Confederação da Indústria Portuguesa (CIP), the confederation of Portuguese industry, said that he thought that the Minister for the Economy and Innovation, Manuel Pinho had “fulfilled his obligation” in reducing increases in electricity prices proposed by the energy regulator Entidade Reguladora dos Serviços Energéticos (ERSE), from a proposed 12.4 per cent to around 6.2 per cent.

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