Since 2007, APREN has been contributing with its Yearbook to detail the universe of renewable electricity production in Portugal, thus allowing it to be understood by all readers. The year 2022, marked by the war in Ukraine, has highlighted the importance of the topics of supply security and energy dependence, further reinforcing the importance of this sector for our country, both in the present and with regard for our future. I speak, without a doubt, of a document that is already a milestone for the electrical sector, serving as a working tool by a crescent number of entities.
This edition, as in previous years, explores the sector's main production and productivity data and indicators, including environmental and macroeconomic analyses and the portfolio of all the renewable power plants of our Members. Additionally, we also wanted to reflect the relevance of non-producer Members, including a section dedicated to the contribution of our Members, highlighting employment.
In 2022, APREN had a total of 160 Members, divided into the categories of Producers (82 Members), Services and Industry (117 Members), Singular Entity (1 Member) and Merit (2 Members). This means that in terms of global representativeness, APREN represents 89% of the renewable electricity sector in Portugal and is distributed over 99% of the installed wind power, 93% of small hydro, 96% of large hydro power plants, 49% of solar photovoltaic, 39% of biomass and 100% of geothermal.
Considering renewable power plants, the 2023 Yearbook shows: 11 biomass power plants (334 MW), 238 wind power plants (5,368 MW), 46 large hydro power plants (6,737 MW), 96 small hydro power plants (379 MW), 89 solar photovoltaic power plants (767 MW) and 3 geothermal power plants (33 MW). This corresponds to a total of 483 renewable power plants with a capacity of 13,618 MW.
Following the Directive (EU) 2018/2001, on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, the final consumption of national electricity derived from renewable energy, represented 59.8% of the total, mainly supported by wind technology, which represented 25.5% and hydro, in this case, 21.2%1. Bearing this in mind, 2022 was an average year for wind productivity, which recorded an index of 0.99, but in the opposite direction the index for hydro productivity was below average with a value of 0.63, having been a dry year. The solar productivity index, has remained stable over the last seven years, presenting a value of 0.78 in 2022.
The data concerning electricity production from renewable sources indicate a contribution of 6.5 TWh from hydro technology plus 2.3 TWh of production in pumping, 13.1 TWh from wind technology, 3.3 TWh from bioenergy, 0.17 TWh from geothermal energy and 2.6 TWh from solar photovoltaic plus 0.7 TWh in self-consumption. Regarding fossil-fuel power plants, natural gas stands out, negatively, with 14.0 TWh, fossil cogeneration power plants with 2.7 TWh and fuel and diesel power plants with 1.0 TWh. In 2022, there wasn’t any electricity produced from coal, in consequence of the coal power plants shutdown during 2021.
Especially this year, with the spot price escalation in the Iberian wholesale market, it is important to remember and highlight that the renewable electricity sector has had and will continue to have a fundamental role as insurance protection for the consumer against the sharp rise in electricity prices, since the production of electricity at guaranteed tariffs now brings an economic benefit to the system, generating an excess gain for the SEN and a saving for consumers. All these factors highlight the importance of renewable electricity for society, the economy, and the environment:• A saving in fossil fuel imports of €5,052 M, a substantial growth compared to the previous year due to the significant increase in the price of natural gas;
• 8.0 Mt of CO₂ equivalent emissions avoided;
• €557 M in CO₂ emission allowances avoided;
• €1,053 M saved in imported electricity.
The analysis of the aforementioned data should always take into account the particularity of the year we are living through, having been marked by the invasion of Ukraine, and the rise in natural gas prices due to the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union, which resulted in serious repercussions in the electrical sector. In this sense, there was an increase in electricity consumption of 3.6% (53,118 GWh in 2021 to 55,027 GWh in 2022), which is associated with the end of the lockdown and the reopening of the various services and the re-establishment of industry. A decrease in renewable incorporation was observed, in terms of electricity production due to the severe drought that affected the continental Portuguese territory, reaching the lowest monthly hydro power production values between the months of June to September in comparison to the last 10 years.
In legislative terms, at European level, the year was marked with the launch, by the European Commission, of a new legislative package, the "RePowerEU". This package was designed with intention of boosting the renewable production and energy savings, and consequently the energy independence of European Union (EU) Member-States. A decision applauded by the sector, which was surprising, right from the start, for defining the new target of 45% for the incorporation of renewable sources (compared to the previous 40% defined in Fit-for-55) in the final consumption of energy in the EU. The package also establishes as goals the installation of 65 GW of electrolysers for green hydrogen production by 2030, to produce 10 Mt/year, the installation of 320 GW of solar photovoltaic power by 2025, and 592 GW by 2030, the installation of 510 GW of wind power by 2030, a 13% increase in the binding target set in the Energy Efficiency Directive and lastly a 3,000 M€ support towards industrial decarbonisation projects.
At national level there was the long-awaited revision of the legislation of the electricity sector, in which APREN actively participated, with the publication in 2022 of the new Decree-Law of the National Electricity System (DL 15/2022), which partially transposes the European Market and Renewables Directives. This ensures that the country follows the development of the necessary tools to meet the targets it has set itself as a Member-State.
In June, the Portuguese and Spanish governments created the Iberian mechanism to limit the natural gas price in the formulation of the electricity price produced in combined cycle power plants. This cap establishes a limit of 40€/MWh of natural gas price destined to produce electricity, which contributed with 4.1M€ in savings to consumers in 2022.
During the same month, the Portuguese Prime Minister announced the 10 GW for offshore wind allocated by 2030, with the first auction to be launched in 2023. In this sense, a working group was created to present inputs and recommendations to meet the ambitious targets, considering that currently there are only 25MW installed.
The review of the NECP 2030, to be carried out in 2023, was announced. Regarding current targets, the 80% renewable incorporation in electricity generation was brought forward to 2026, and the target for the share of renewables in final electricity consumption was increased to 49%. In transport, the target for renewables incorporation by 2030 is 29%.
The year of 2022 was also marked by the simplification of licencing processes, in order to be possible to achieve the established targets. In March, the Joint Order from APA and DGEG simplified the licencing of small solar production units. The following month, the government published Decree-Law no. 30-A/2022, with the objective of ensuring the entry into operation of production procedures by renewable sources, and in October, the Decree-Law no. 72/2022 was published to accelerate the installation of solar power plants. The year ended with the announcement of new measures under SIMPLEX, namely the elimination of the need for case-by-case analysis in several situations, the need for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for equipment replacement (meeting certain conditions), and the elimination of EIA to produce green hydrogen.
I also reinforce something that I have been emphasizing in recent years, it is necessary to intensify the spirit of collaboration and harmony with all entities involved in the conduct of this sector, with special emphasis on: the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy and respective Secretaries of State, DGEG, APA, REN, E-Redes, SU Universal, ERSE, ENSE, the CCDRs, the ICNF and the City Councils. However, I must thank all these actors for the close interaction they have maintained with APREN, mentioning that the door of the Association will always be open to all of them to continue the dialogue and open debate towards decarbonisation.
I conclude on a personal note. Is with great pride that I see the Association continue to grow, both in terms of Members and employees (whom I thank for the work they have been doing) during my third year of mandate, having clearly reinforced my idea of the importance of the renewable electricity sector, because:Portugal needs our energy.