the President of the Board
2020 was a year of challenges, but also of opportunities, especially for the renewables sector.
Since 2007, APREN has been contributing annually with its Yearbook, for a better understanding of the entire universe of renewable electricity in Portugal. The year of 2020, a striking year for all of us due to the pandemic situation, is another one in which we intend to illustrate the importance of this sector for our country, both in the present, but also with regard to our future. Undoubtedly, this is a document that is already a milestone for the electricity sector and that has been used as a work tool by numerous entities.
This edition explores the main data and indicators of production and producibility in the sector. It also includes environmental and macroeconomic analyses, main innovations and changes in legislation, as well as the portfolio of all our Members’ renewable power plants located in the Portuguese territory.
Currently, APREN has 72 Producer Members (8 more than in 2019) and 64 “Industry and Services” Members (4 more than in 2019). In terms of global representation, this means 91% of the sector of renewable electricity in Portugal, distributed by a share of 97% of installed wind power, 89% of small hydro, 100% of large hydro power plants, 37% of solar photovoltaics, 25% of biomass and 100% of geothermal.
Considering renewable power plants, the 2021 Yearbook presents: 6 biomass power plants (222 MW); 240 wind power plants (5,299 MW); 47 large hydro power plants (6,781 MW); 97 small hydro power plants (371 MW); 80 solar photovoltaic power plants (230 MW); and 3 geothermal power plants (33 MW). These data correspond to a total of 473 renewable power plants with a capacity of 12,936 MW.
Regarding the provision of renewable electricity in Portugal in 2020, this represented 55.4% (normalized value in accordance with Directive 2009/28/EC) of national demand, mostly supported by the wind technology, with 23%, accounting for the resource normalization, followed by hydro technology with a normalized share of 22%.
Nevertheless, there was a reduction in terms of wind productivity, which registered an index of 0.94, mainly due to values well below the average in February and March. Regarding hydroelectric representation, although there was an increase in the hydro productivity index compared to 2019, 2020 was considered a dry year, registering a value of 0.97.
The data referring to electricity production from renewable sources indicate a contribution of 13.9 TWh from hydro technology; 12.2 TWh from wind technology; 3.3 TWh from bioenergy; 0.2 TWh from geothermal technology; and 1.3 TWh of photovoltaic. In relation to fossil power plants, it stands out natural gas, negatively, with 12.3 TWh, and the large reduction in coal production (2.1 TWh were produced), with a decrease of 58%, compared to 2019. Fossil cogeneration power plants contributed with 4.6 TWh and fuel power plants with 0.9 TWh.
The last month of the year ended with high renewable productivity, which allowed for 75% of renewable generation, the second highest monthly value recorded. It was only surpassed in April (84%), the most atypical month during the pandemic. The month of December was the only one to exceed a hundred hours of 100% renewable generation throughout the year, having recorded 167 non-consecutive hours, the equivalente of 7 days. This fact resulted from an accentuated hydroelectric and wind generation, thus proving the already considerable resilience of the national electricity system, before high levels of renewable integration.
These factors point out the importance of renewable electricity for society, economy, and environment, highlighting:
• Savings in fossil fuel imports of €665 million;
• 17.4 Mt of avoided CO2 equivalent emissions;
• Avoided €426 million in CO2 emission allowances.
Any analysis of the aforementioned data must always take into account the particular context of the year we are living in. It was marked by the pandemic crisis, with clear and visible repercussions in the electricity sector. In this case, there was a reduction of 2.6% in electricity demand (53,796 GWh in 2019 to 52,349 GWh in 2020) which, in turn, resulted in a reduction in the wholesale market prices. The reduction was also associated to an increase in renewable incorporation, with a parallel lower use of fossil fuels, leading to a significant reduction in the sector’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the early phase-out of coal-fired power plants. The year was also marked by a clear boost in renewable electricity, with the review of legislation and legal measures, both at national and European level.
We started 2020 with the Green Deal communication, a package of measures aiming for carbon neutrality in Europe in 2050, in response to the European Parliament’s declaration of climate emergency, demanding greater ambition for the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to 55% by 2030, compared to 1990. Also at European level, we emphasize the European Climate Law, with the aim of enshrining in law the objective of climate neutrality by 2050, ensuring that all EU policies contribute to this objective and that all sectors of the economy and the society participate in this effort.
At the national level, the National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 was approved. It sets the target of 80% for electricity demand from renewable energy sources (RES) by 2030, brought by an increase in the installed capacity of all renewable technologies, which should reach a total of 28.7 GW, starting from the current 14.5 GW. The National Hydrogen Strategy was also approved, which foresees the installation of 2 to 2.5 GW of electrolysers (equivalent electrolysis power) by 2030, with the aim of producing hydrogen using electricity generated by renewable energy sources (green hydrogen).
As in 2019, in 2020 a solar photovoltaic capacity auction took place, where 670 MW were allocated, of which 483 MW, for projects with storage. There was high competitiveness to ensure a connection point to the Public Service Electricity Network and generate electricity from renewable sources in the Portuguese market. The Government predicts that the savings for the system, resulting from the 2020 auction, will amount to around €560 million in 15 years, with this saving depending on the prices to be practiced in the wholesale market in the same period.
To face the crisis caused by COVID-19, the European Union came forward with a quite robust package of funds. Of the €750 billion for the Next Generation EU, 30% is earmarked for decarbonisation. Taking into account this value and the opportunity it represents for the development of the renewable sector in Europe, Portugal announced the Recovery and Resilience Plan – Recuperar Portugal 2021-2026, which allocates around €3.2 billion in direct investment to reforms for the climate with a focus on mobility, decarbonization, bioeconomy, energy efficiency and renewables.
As a result of the facts related to the Green Deal, a series of new strategies have already been approved and a review of a set of directives that formulate the defined ambition is foreseen. This will lead to the revision of the national goals and objectives of the Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050 (RNC 2050), and of the National Energy and Climate Plan 2030 (NECP 2030), to ensure compliance with the EU new CO2 emission reduction targets.
Therefore, the spirit of collaboration and unity with all the entities involved in this sector will have to be strengthened, giving special emphasis to: the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action, the Ministry of Finance and the respective State Secretaries, DGEG, APA, REN, E-Redes, SU Universal, ERSE, ENSE, CCDRs, the ICNF and the City Councils. However, I cannot fail to thank all these actors for the close interaction they have maintained with APREN, noting that our door will always be open to all of them to continue the open dialogue and debate towards the decarbonisation.
Finally, on a personal note, it is with pride that I saw the Association continue to grow throughout my second year in office, having clearly reinforced my idea of the importance of the renewable electricity sector, because:
Portugal needs our energy.