Portugal is not us, but damn we could learn a few things . . ..

Sure, circumstances are different – maybe a lot different – here than there. But the single most important thing they did was decide to do something. And they went from there.

 Portugal’s electricity network operator announced that renewable energy supplied 70 percent of total consumption in the first quarter of this year. This increase was largely due to favorable weather conditions resulting in increased wind and water flow, as well as lower demand. Portuguese citizens are using less energy and using sources that never run out for the vast majority of what they do use.

. . . Portugal’s investment in modernizing its electricity grid in 2000 has come in handy. Like in many countries, power companies owned their own transmission lines. What the government did in 2000 was to buy all the lines, creating a publicly owned and traded company to operate them. This was used to create a smart grid that renewable energy producers could connect to (encouraged by government-organized auctions to build new wind and hydro plants).

And then there’s this – surprising, and very hopeful:

Other countries have been making steps of their own on renewable power production. The U.S. had a record-breaking year for wind energy in 2012, growing by 28 percent. Sweden is looking to have no dependence on oil by 2020. Australia could be looking at 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. Global solar power world will soon be a net-positive energy source.

12 responses to “Portugal is not us, but damn we could learn a few things . . ..

  1. Wow, you mean Portugal actually de-privatized part of its grid to help make this happen! And it works!


  2. Why is it that green energy and a bad economy so often march in lock step?


  3. Ms. Holland,

    I cannot believe you picked Portugal to brag about the wonders of green energy. Portugal and that other darling of renewable energy, Spain, are zombie economies. The only good parts of their economies are the underground parts, which the tax masters cannot destroy. Unemployment among youth and young adults is so high that anyone who can get out, is getting out. Add that to the low birth rates and you have nations who will get very old very fast.

    My point is that unless you are very rich like Germany, you cannot afford to be Stupid, Green, and Progressive at the same time. On the plus side, my boy Jim Cramer thinks Europe is turning around. I don’t see it.


    • Ahhh, Mr. Cramer . . . I recall how bullish he was on AIG and Bear Stearns in ’08. Those were indeed the days.

      I know Alan that you like to fit things into little boxes, i.e., smart energy policy = bad economy. Sorry. Here’s a list of the 12 most energy efficient nations as of 2012 rated as percentage of 100% by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Perhaps you would be so kind as to point out the correlation to their economies?

      U.K. (67 points);
      Germany (66);
      Italy (63);
      Japan (62);
      France (60);
      Three-way tie between the European Union, Australia and China (56);
      U.S. (47);
      Brazil (41);
      Canada (37); and
      Russia (36).


      • Allow me to jump in to this in Alan’s defense.

        “smart energy” and energy efficiency do not always, or even often, equal “green” energy. Hence, you statistics are misleading.

        That being said, the UK, Italy, Japan, and France all have collapsing or collapsed and stagnating economies, though this is likely correlative not causative in nature. As Alan said, “you cannot afford to be Stupid, Green, and Progressive at the same time.”


  4. One thing in regards to Portugal that should be pointed out is that their renewable energy “boom” is predicated upon both climatic anomalies and decreased demand. The first is immaterial but the second is important.

    That reduced energy demand is due to a sharp decline in their population and an even sharper decline in businesses and industry, the largest consumers of energy.

    I won’t speak to causation but all who link “green” energy successes to failing economies have a valid point. Almost every success has been strongly influenced by economically driven drops in demand.


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