Renewable Energy: The key to Investment for a Low Carbon Future in Europe

Renewable Energy: The key to Investment for a Low Carbon Future in Europe

"Recent years have seen in Portugal an exponential growth in the number of renewable energy parks, responding to political and economic pressures to achieve ambitious targets for the production of energy through renewable sources. At a general level, this development has been based on consensual statements - mitigation of climate change, reduction of external energy dependence  - but at a local and situated level conflicts become visible (visual destruction of the landscape, harmful impacts on rural ecosystems, tourist activities, health).  

With the Paris Agreement, the world has committed itself to a future with low carbon emissions. The European Union has already set ambitious climate targets and, in order to achieve our long-term decarbonisation objectives, renewable energies must supply at least 55% to 75% of our energy needs by 2050. These figures are clearly a challenge, but I think they are achievable.    

Renewable energies are key to long-term climate change mitigation and will play an increasingly important role in improving the Union's overall energy security. Nevertheless, we are likely to continue to need fossil fuels for some time to come, even if our dependence on them has already started to decrease. In addition to geopolitical risks, fossil fuels carry disproportionate external costs for society, costs that translate into damage to health and the environment.    

Despite a sustained reduction in oil prices, which may now affect the competitiveness costs of renewable energies, the long-term outlook for these energies is very favourable. The costs of renewable energy technologies are becoming increasingly competitive. In many places, renewable energies are already competing at market prices with fossil fuel based technologies. In addition, if energy prices better reproduced the environmental impacts associated with its production and use, such as emissions to air, water and climate change, the competitiveness of renewable energies would clearly outstrip that of conventional technologies.    

The year 2019 closed with two months of high renewable productivity, and November was marked by another record of the electricity generating centres in mainland Portugal, which achieved an unprecedented daily output of 103.1 Gigawatt-hours (GWh). In December, Portugal again broke the record for 100% renewable consumption: on the 18th, it began an uninterrupted period of 131 hours, corresponding to 5.5 days, in which renewable production was sufficient to supply consumption.    

"According to Pedro Amaral Jorge, president of APREN, by defining a 10-year strategy with quantified objectives for the renewable electricity sector, the Portuguese government "creates the necessary conditions to attract the suitable investments and financing to the national economy, towards a cheaper, more equitable electricity service with active citizen participation.   

This article is primarily aimed at exploring the conflicts surrounding renewable energies in Portugal, at a time when strong political, viral and economic pressures have promoted their expansion in order to achieve ambitious targets for "INVESTMENT" in the near future.  



Text: José Costa  


CE – Comissão Europeia (2007), Eurobarómetro 65.3 Energy Technologies: Knowledge, Perception, Measures. Bruxelas: CE. 

DGEG – Direção Geral de Energia e Geologia (2010), Renováveis: estatísticas rápidas n.º 68. Lisboa: DGEG. 

Renewable Energy: The Key to Investment for a Low Carbon Future in Europe