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Transition

‘Two-thirds of our electricity comes from renewable sources’

Portugal has ‘decarbonized’ from burning coal. In January 2021 the coal-fired power plant located in Sines was closed and the power plant in Pego (Abrantes) shut down in November. However, according to the tabloid Correio da Manhã, both companies continue to produce electricity from the burning of coal in Spain, from where it is imported into Portugal.


Two-thirds of the electricity in Portugal nowadays comes from renewable sources: hydroelectric(28%), wind (24%), solar (8%), and biomass (7%).

The country’s current photovoltaic solar capacity of 1775 megawatts (MW) was increased by 700 MW last year, the biggest increase ever. In wind energy, 2021 was also an excellent year with 126 MW more wind power than in the previous year.


Portugal’s largest solar power plant was inaugurated in the mountainous terrain of the Serra do Caldeirão in Alcoutim (Eastern Algarve). The 660,000 panels generate enough electricity (220 megawatts) to power 200.000 homes.



Europe’s largest floating solar power plant in a hydroelectric dam – located in the Alqueva reservoir – will start operating next month. The 12,000 floating solar panels – with a size of four soccer fields – have a capacity of 5 MW.

In the Atlantic – 20 kilometres off the coast of Viana do Castelo – there are three giant wind turbines. One of them – 190 metres high – is the tallest in the world. They are set on floating platforms attached with 40 metres long chains to the seabed and in operation since 2020. The turbines are capable of supplying around 60.000 homes with electricity every year.


In March the government approved the acquisition of 10 electric ferries, connecting Lisbon with Seixal, Montijo, Cacilhas and Trafaria across the Tagus river. With these vessels, the shipping company saves around 5.3 million litres of diesel corresponding to an emission of 13 thousand tons of CO2.

The port of Sines will be the stage for a mega-investment of 1.3 billion euros in green hydrogen and ammonia to be produced from renewable sources. The hydrogen (H2) project will install an electrolysis capacity of 500 MW allowing an annual production of 70 thousand tons of green hydrogen. The ammonia project combines green hydrogen and nitrogen to produce green ammonia, an essential component for the fertilizer industry.


Portugal’s first lithium refinery will be sited in Setúbal. The production – with an initial capacity of 30,000 tonnes of lithium per year, enough to create batteries for 700,000 electric vehicles – will start by the end of 2025.

‘Energy powering of the plant will be green’ – stated the Portuguese Galp consortium – ‘minimising dependency on natural gas’. Nothing in GALP’s statement, however, refers to the fierce opposition in the Portuguese communities, that have been earmarked for lithium mining!



Enjoy your week          Aproveite a semana               (pics PtRes,Ptnews)


















Waste


Eurostat reports that the production of urban waste in the EU is increasing every year. Portuguese nationals each produce an average of 514 kgs of urban waste. That is just above the European average of 505 kgs but below major consumers like Denmark (845 kg) and Luxembourg (790 kg).


On the 17th of May – World Recycling Day – the country didn’t look good, say environmentalists pointing to an excessive failure in the recycling of waste.


In 2020 only 16,1% of municipal waste (8,9% from plastic, paper, glass, and metals; 7,2 % from organic material) was sent for recycling, a long way from the goal set, according to the environmental NGO Zero. This recycling rate even decreased compared to 2019 – when recycling reached 21% – and is far from the EU target of 55% set for 2025.


The same poor result is seen with electronic waste. Only 15 % was collected, less than a quarter of the target! The picture only improved a little for batteries – with 29% collected against a target of 45%.

Zero adds that the drop in the recycling rate ‘contradicts the official line that in a pandemic year there would have been widespread compliance with recycling practices’.

The NGO further believes that the continued focus on selective collection through Eco points (recycling points) – instead of door-to-door collection – explains the stagnation of the recycling rate throughout the years.
There are now a total of 70.000 Eco points compared to 45,000 in 2019.  


The good news, however, is the transformation of waste into hydrogen, which subsequently can be used for public transport and waste collection vehicles.

In November last year the municipality of Cascais – in cooperation with the Portuguese companies Floating Particle (‘technology’) and IPIAC (‘machinery’) started with the installation of a production unit capable of converting 50 tonnes of household waste into 5 tonnes of hydrogen per year.


By investing in this technology with two hundred thousand euros, the municipality is contributing locally to solving two urgent environmental problems.  The management of household waste (eliminating transport costs and the use of landfills) and the use of fossil fuel energies, which are highly polluting and – since the war in Ukraine – increasingly expensive.


The unit – called Stella – is located in the parish of Alcabideche and will only need household waste –plastic, paper, and organic material but not glass or metals – air and a small amount of water, being self-sufficient in terms of energy.


Enjoy the week                     Aproveite a semana      (pic PtRes/Público)




















Renewables

According to Eurostat, Portugal’s GDP dropped this year by 5,4%, the greatest fall in Europe! Rating agency Moody declared, that Portugal is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic as small and medium-sized companies represent a large proportion of the GDP and its high dependency on tourism. The IMF is pessimistic about the recovery, expecting only a small surplus of +0,5% from 2024 onward.

Fortunately, the energy transition gains momentum.
Closure of the coal-fired power plant in Sines means a 12% reduction in the national emission of greenhouse gases every year!

If it is up to the socialist government, Portugal will become a major producer and exporter of green hydrogen (H2) gas. If all goes well, there could be 50-100 hydrogen stations by 2030, and is the percentage of hydrogen incorporated in the national gas network 10-15%.

A planned 1.5 billion industrial project near the deepwater port of Sines will produce 1GW of renewable electricity from solar and wind and 1 GW of green hydrogen from electrolyzers, provided the EU co-finances this integrated ecosystem.

Another climate-friendly project is the initiative of the Water Treatment Plant (ETA) to become neutral in energy consumption. This so-called ClorH20 program combines the production of hydrogen with that of chlorine, necessary for the disinfection of water. Instead of importing liquid chlorine, ETA will build an electrolyzer, that not only produces hydrogen but chlorine gas as well.

A British-US consortium is to invest 3.5 billion euros to build one of Europe’s largest sustainable data centers with access to trans-Atlantic fiber-optic cables in the port of Sines. Dubbed Sines 4.0, the center – with a 450 MW capacity and a zero carbon footprint  – is expected to create up to 8,000 highly qualified jobs by 2025.

On the first of June the submarine optic cable EllaLink – connecting Europe to South America – was inaugurated in Sines by the Portuguese Presidency of the European Council.

Local Braga company Rosseti Engenharia has signed a 23 million contract for a mega solar parc in the Alentejo province, capable of generating 100 GWh, enough to provide over 30,000 homes with green electricity.

Environmentalists warn that the race to embrace solar energy can have disastrous effects on the environment if these parks  – some of them stretching over 1,000 hectares – are being built in sensitive areas. 

Lithium – a key ingredient in batteries for electric vehicles and mobile phones – plays an essential role in the energy decarbonization agenda. As the north and center of the country have an abundance of this so-called ‘white gold,’ Portugal is keen to play its part. However, tenders for possible exploration are to exclude natural parks and Natura 2000 areas.

As a result of this ruling, the Government decided this year to cancel a contentious 500 million lithium mining project in the uppermost northern Montalegre region, a United Nations Agricultural Heritage site.


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