Portugal generated 103% of its electricity demands from renewable energy for the month of March, further establishing the country as a pioneer in the field, according to the nation’s transmission system operator, REN, Quartz reports.
For two 70-hour time spans during the month, all electricity was supplied by renewables, primarily from wind turbines and hydropower. The rest of the month’s energy came predominantly from renewables with fossil fuels filling in supply gaps.
With these breakthroughs, Portugal is approaching its goal of generating 60% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, according to the Guardian.
For that to happen, however, more investments have to be made in solar energy to diversify the energy grid, the Guardian reports.
Then the country has to improve its energy storage capabilities.
Generating surplus energy while also relying on fossil fuels is a feature of renewable energy systems because of how energy is generated in waves. Unlike fossil fuels, which are burned as needed, renewable energy depends on weather conditions.
If it’s cloudy, less solar power will be generated. On the other hand, if it’s very sunny, a lot of energy will be produced. Sometimes too much energy is generated and the excess gets lost because storage capabilities for renewables are still in their early stages.
As a result of this unstable pattern, Portugal still depends on fossil fuels to avoid blackouts.
This problem is made worse by Portugal’s lack of coordination with the rest of the European Union, according to Politico.
If the country participated in energy sharing networks, as other countries across the region do, then it would be able to distribute excess energy elsewhere and receive energy when needed.
Regardless, Portugal’s achievement shows that energy targets set under the Paris Climate Agreement can be reached and that climate change can be mitigated with greater investments in renewables.
Other countries, such as Costa Rica, Scotland, and Norway, are breaking renewable energy records, while major fossil fuel markets like China and India are making massive investments in sustainability initiatives.
For example, India is spearheading a movement to more than triple the amount of solar energy in the world.
These efforts will culminate in 2020, when countries are expected to significantly ratchet up their commitments under the the Paris Climate Agreement, which seeks to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.
For that to happen, more countries have to match Portugal’s mix of energy production.
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