|Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago.|
The 17 percent figure is given through an Eurostat reference. More recent data from DGEG (Portuguese Institution that tracks energy statistics in Portugal) gives a different view. Considering data from page 6 of the above report, one can see in table "Quadro B.1", that 2005 was cherry-picked because of it's very low value. If 2001 (35.4%) was chosen, or 2003 (37.3%), the results wouldn't be so impressive!
Please remember that the values I've mentioned are real values, and that corrected values may appear, as European Directive 2001/77/CE values are given considering hydro electricity production. Now, these values are compared with 1997 values, when a lot of hydroelectricity was produced in Portugal. In the last 10 years, only 2003 surpassed the 1997 hydro production, so that year was the year with the biggest renewable energy sources production (in percentage: 37.3%). But when considering the directive values, it comes with one of the lowest values, with 33.9%. Getting confused? Take a look at the following graphs (originally shown here), where the graph on the left side represents the corrected version, being the right graph the real graph.
Now, the value for 2010 stands at 48.3% in May. If we dig into the statistics, the hydroelectricity produced in the first five months of 2010 is already bigger than the other years following 2003. And it is approaching the 1997 value. That means that the bigger percentage for this year will have to do essentially with rainfall, which fell in great quantity the past Winter, and little with political strategy.
The New York Times also comments on the fact that Portugal has become a net power exporter. That has in fact occurred, but at a high cost! Portugal has been exporting this energy when the wind is stronger, with it occurring when wind is also strong in Spain. A lot of this exported energy was exported at zero cost, which means Portugal is offering energy to other countries, while consumers/taxpayers are paying almost 93.74 euros per MWh for wind energy feed-in tariffs. According to my calculations, these exports have cost the country 50M euros, only in the first trimester of 2010. Indeed, if no wind energy existed, Portugal would have benefited 216M euros in the same first trimester.
Economic benefits have not been carefully studied, yet. Green jobs are few, and more related to construction. Even EDP Renováveis, a Portuguese company, which owns Horizon Wind Energy, did not consider job creation in Portugal, with it's record Vestas order, to much frustration of the Prime Minister, who couldn't avoid smiling for the NY Times interview. The NW Times is right on the energy costs, and they have had a very big impact on the Portuguese economy, which has been stalling for years...