Creeping Toward Carbon Free

April 9, 2018


Fortune favors the prepared mind. – Louis Pasteur


Portugal’s renewable energy sources generated enough power to exceed total grid demand across the month of March, a new report has found, setting a standard that is expected to become the norm for the European nation.

According to Portuguese grid operator, REN, renewable energy output over the month reached 4,812GWh, surpassing the nation’s total electricity needs for March, which only topped 4,647GWh.

In that time, power generated by Portugal’s hydroelectric dams accounted for 55 per cent of monthly consumption – boosted by drought-breaking rainfall of four times the monthly average – and wind power, 42 per cent.

The achievement comes nearly one year after hydro, wind, and solar power helped push the Iberian country to run on 100 per cent renewable electricity for 107 hours straight. Last March, however, the average renewables supply was 62 per cent.

The new record coincides with the move by the Portuguese government, last Tuesday, to suspend annual subsidies of around €20 million for guaranteed power supplies paid to producers – most of which goes to fossil fuel plants left in stand-by mode.

“Last month’s achievement is an example of what will happen more frequently in the near future,” said the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association and the Sustainable Earth System Association in a report published last week.

“It is expected that by 2040 the production of renewable electricity will be able to guarantee, in a cost-effective way, the total annual electricity consumption of mainland Portugal.”

The group noted that while fossil fuel plants still worked for short periods to complement the electricity supply, those were fully compensated by other periods of greater renewable production.

“These data, besides indicating a historical milestone in the Portuguese electricity sector, demonstrate that renewable energy can be relied upon as a secure and viable source with which to completely meet the country’s electricity demands.”

The effort was also praised by Green MEP Claude Turmes, who cited Portugal’s example as evidence that the EU should support a renewable energy target of more than 27 per cent for 2030

Who knew? Preparing for the future is a good idea.

Inside Climate News:

As the U.S. enters the global offshore wind market in earnest, Massachusetts is a state to watch—on shore as well as off.

In a few weeks, the state will announce which among three proposed offshore wind projects it wants to move ahead. No matter which are chosen, Massachusetts wins.

That’s because more than a decade ago, the state began developing the onshore components for offshore wind, including a major offshore wind-ready port in New Bedford, a wind turbine blade testing center in Charlestown and workforce training initiatives. Officials envisioned Massachusetts as the hub for an entire future East Coast wind industry.

In 2006, with a proposal for offshore wind power in the region under consideration, Matthew Morrissey began exploring what the industry could do for New Bedford, where he was the city’s top economic development official. Once a major port, New Bedford’s whaling days were long gone and its fishing drastically diminished.

Offshore wind, he thought, could be its resurrection. He initiated studies and began discussing the idea with lawmakers. Today he’s a vice president at Deepwater Wind, one of the offshore wind developers waiting to hear about their project.

Morrissey and others say it could have come to nothing without Massachusetts’ groundbreaking state policies, beginning with ambitious clean energy goals in 2008 and the state’s first-in-the-nation offshore wind energy mandate. The mandate, approved in August 2016 by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, requires the state’s utilities to have long-term contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power by June 2027.

The competitive solicitation for the first quarter of that is about to be completed, and it includes proposals from all three developers holding lease areas off New England—Deepwater Wind, Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind.

“The smartest thing they did—they passed that legislation and then they swiftly and effectively implemented it,” said Stephanie McClellan, director of the University of Delaware’s Special Initiative on Offshore Wind.“They will be rewarded for that.”

It would seem the state is already seeing those rewards. Just this month, Bay State Wind, a partnership between Denmark’s Ørsted and New England’s Eversource Energy, announced it would open a facility in Massachusetts to manufacture offshore wind components with steel pipe manufacturer EEW and Gulf Island Fabrication. It predicted the plant would create 500 jobs and lead to 1,200 more in the local community.


Iceland and Norway meet essentially all of their electrical needs through hydro and geothermal power, and have for years — but those countries take advantage of extraordinary geology, making the accomplishment hard to replicate.

Several small islands are all-green, but larger countries are rare. On particularly windy days in 2015 and 2017, Denmark exceeded its electrical needs through wind power alone.

And several times in the past few years, Costa Rica has kept on the lights through on all-renewable power for several months, fueled by heavy rains that fed into hydroelectric facilities.

Portugal also benefited from higher-than-usual rainfall last month, Reuters reports.

As the renewable production rose, the price of electricity fell by about 10 percent compared to a year before, the wire service notes.





15 Responses to “Creeping Toward Carbon Free”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Creeping indeed!

    Approximate populations of countries/places mentioned (in millions):

    10 Portugal
    7 Massachusetts
    .4 Iceland
    5 Norway
    6 Denmark
    5 Costa Rica
    33+ million Total

    In the meantime (also in millions):

    24 Shanghai
    23 Delhi
    23 Mumbai
    70 million Total

    Not to diminish the importance of European countries and U.S. states “creeping” toward carbon free, but the clock is still ticking too slowly.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      All countries certainly are moving too slowly.

      But the biosphere doesn’t care about numbers of people, only amounts of greenhouse gas, and Europeans and USers emit more per person. USers spew almost 2 1/2 times more per capita than the Chinese, and almost 10 times more than Indians, and that’s only CO2. Since they also eat a lot more meat they emit more methane, and I’m guessing a lot more nitrous oxides and fluorinated gases per person as well. Europeans already use a lot less energy than USers, and are cutting way back on the carbon density of their energy, and Scandinavia, Germany, Spain, Portugal etc. are building renewables and getting rid of fossil fuels a lot faster than the US (Britain with its lowest emissions since the 1890s). So you have some more math to do for your figures to mean anything. Even if randomly chosen cities are still used for no apparent reason.

      The problem here is that your post plays into a very common fallacy that equates all humans in terms of harm done and thus considers the number of people to be the problem, thus throwing climate change in the lap of those who outnumber us by a LOT but nevertheless have almost nothing to do with the climate crisis. Rich people have caused this problem and changing the lives and impact of rich people is what we have to do to solve it. The fact that while we’re doing that we can help a billion or 2 very poor people to have access to electricity for the first time, and with virtually no increase in ecological damage and while democratizing their society, at an incredibly low cost, is just a bonus.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Jeffy4Z has put down his bongos, emerged from his yurt, and is now riding his Unicorn up and down the beautiful Oregon coast, all the while sniffing his perfumed sleeve hanky—-Life is good!

        Too bad Jeffy also makes such ill-informed comments as “…the biosphere doesn’t care about numbers of people, only amounts of greenhouse gas…”, which is simply not true. The biosphere is built on a vast web of interrelationships that go way beyond GHG (although GHG and AGW are the biggest worry at present). Those relationships evolved over hundreds of millions of years, and did quite nicely until Wetiko-infected humans came along and upset the “natural” way of things.

        It is not “fallacy” to understand that those humans who are at present NOT doing as much harm as Europeans and Americans want mnothing more than to be JUST LIKE US and consume and destroy at unsustainable levels. Yes, “rich people” did bring on the crisis, but the poor people want their chance now, and anyone who thinks we can walk the tightrope of keeping 4+ billion humans from doing just what we did is deluded.

        I refer everyone back to a link I posted in 2016—“The World Is About To Install 700 Million Air Conditioners. Here’s What That Means For The Climate”

        “As summer temperatures finally settle in, many in the United States take it for granted that they can dial down the thermostat: Americans use 5 percent of all of their electricity cooling homes and buildings. In many other countries, however — including countries in much hotter climates — air conditioning is still a relative rarity. But as these countries boom in wealth and population, and extend electricity to more people even as the climate warms, the projections are clear: They are going to install mind-boggling amounts of air conditioning, not just for comfort but as a health necessity”.

        “That’s already happened in some places. In just 15 years, urban areas of China went from just a few percentage points of air conditioning penetration to exceeding 100 percent — “i.e. more than one room air conditioner (AC) per urban household,” according to a recent report on the global AC boom by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. And air conditioner sales are now increasing in India, Indonesia and Brazil by between 10 and 15 percent per year, the research noted. India, a nation of 1.25 billion people, had just 5 percent air conditioning penetration in the year 2011.

        “A study last year similarly found “a close relationship between household income and air conditioner adoption, with ownership increasing 2.7 percentage points per $1,000 of annual household income.” For Mexico in particular, it therefore projected a stupendous growth of air conditioning over the 21st century, from 13 percent of homes having it to 71 to 81 percent of homes.

        “We expect that the demand for cooling as economies improve, particularly in hot climates, is going to be an incredible driver of electricity requirements,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in an interview.

        “In most ways, of course, this is a very good thing: Protecting people from intense heat — a town in India this month saw temperatures exceed 123 degrees Fahrenheit — is essential for their health and well-being. It’s just that it’s going to come with a huge energy demand, and potentially huge carbon emissions to boot”.

        Jeffy? Did you notice CHINA and INDIA and MEXICO mentioned?

  2. indy222 Says:

    DOG’s point, I think, is that it’s not the past, but the future that counts, and no countries are accelerating their CO2 emissions as fast as India and other large Asian countries. Yes, the US has contributed more CO2 in the past, but we’re becoming a minor contributor now compared to China and the rest of Asia. Focusing only on Europe and the U.S., who’s per capita emissions have been largely flat for decades, paints a happy face on a tragic situation, as the Keeling Curve continues to accelerate upward without the slightest hint of a change in the mathematical form of that Keeling Curve despite all the hoopla.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      And yet from a fairness perspective, and a human rights perspective, the US and other rich countries have had 500 years of high and rising emissions to accumulate a tremendous fortune–infrastructure and wealth not to mention dominance and control over the global trade system. They’ve created terms advantageous to themselves in every sphere so to speak. and now to claim wide eyed and innocent that oh it’s the poor countries who have o control themselves and cut their porridge rations so we can continue to eat steak and truffles in puff pastry. (and refrigerate them, and store our pasture in other peoples’ rain forests, etc.).

      Differential responsibility.

      The intransigence of the US on this subject through decades of international negotiations reminds me of an internet troll who can be told literally a hundred times that no, coal produces more pollution than wind power and here are 78 peer-reviewed studies showing it, but the troll still insists on saying the opposite, despite having no evidence at all. The US essentially has been saying Yes, we want to negotiate a solution to the problem as long as we change nothing about what we’re doing and can maintain our relative position as dominant empire in the world with an exception to every rule we make for yous guys. (You know, land mines, Law of the Sea treaty, GHGs, and dozens of other agreements over the last 100 years or so. IOW, the US is a malignant narcissist and has finally found a president to reflect its main nature.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        JFC, Jeffy! Under what branch of science do we put the Universal Laws of “Fairness” and “Human Rights”? Is what we have done to the planet “fair”? Have we respected the “rights” of other living things?

        Nature is NOT “fair” and “human rights” is an outgrowth of our own anthropocentrism. The biosphere doesn’t give a rat’s ass that humans have somehow forgotten their place in the world—-nature is biocentric, and that means survival of the fittest—–“red in tooth and claw”, etc.—-all evidence points to the human species time on this planet being limited, and that is a proper end to a species that is not worthy of dominance.

        It is also a bit comical that you bring up the internet “coal troll” while at the same time ranting on (again) about rich vs. poor. Yes, as James Wheaton said, you “hit the nail squarely on the head”—-it’s too bad that you insist upon bending the nail EVERY time you hit it so squarely—-you need to adjust your grip on the hammer.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Thank you, indy—-it’s good to see that there are others out there who are both capable in science and math and intuitive enough to see where things are going. (As opposed to those who simply ride and herd unicorns while sniffing sleeve hankies.)

      Jeffy4Z’s numbers for China and India are a bit off on the low side—-perhaps outdated. but close enough—-there are lots of sources out there that allow us to see into the future with some clarity. Here are just two:

      Jeffy4Z has some more math and thinking to do before my figures mean anything, as indicated by his clueless statement—-“Even if randomly chosen cities are still used for no apparent reason”.

      He can add Lagos and Cairo to the “randomly chosen cities” list, mainly because they are (hint hint) the two largest cities in Africa at ~21 million each. Speaking of Africa, lets give Jeffy4Z some more numbers to look at:

      Populations: (in billions)

      7.6 World
      4.4 Asia (1.3+ China, 1.3+ India)
      1.2+ Africa

      .741 Europe
      .326 USA
      ~ 1 billion Total

      See anything yet, Jeffy?

  3. redskylite Says:

    I’m pleased to see the number of companies that are making a serious effort, especially the “Global Enterprises”, following google, Apple has just made the jump.

    What an example in all 43 countries that it operates in.

    Apple’s Global Operations Now Powered by 100% Renewable Energy [BREAKING NEWS]

    Apple announced today that its global operations are now powered by 100% renewable energy after years of work in 43 countries around the world.

  4. J4zonian – you have hit the nail squarely on the head my friend.

  5. redskylite Says:

    It’s heartwarming to see how fast the Wind/Turbine industry is advancing, the days of needing smoky, sulphur laden power stations are long gone. And it’s bonnie, unbelievable tenacious Scotland holding the torch once again.

    World’s most powerful wind turbine installed in Scottish waters

    Project director Adam Ezzamel said the giant device is so powerful that one single rotation of its blades could provide enough electricity to power an average UK home for a day. The turbines are each 191 metres tall, with each blade being eight metres long, while the 164-metre rotor has a circumference larger than that of the London Eye. The Aberdeen Bay development, which will be Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility and will trial next generation technology, has been hit by delays – including legal challenges from Donald Trump who claimed the turbines would ruin the views from his golf course at Balmedie.

  6. redskylite Says:

    It’s not only for the rich (and white):GRID Alternatives Achieves 10,000 Installations

    GRID Alternatives is a national leader in making clean, affordable solar power and solar jobs accessible to low income communities and communities of color. It sees its mission as more than just bringing renewable energy to under-served communities. It also invests in people by offering training opportunities that will allow low income workers to find jobs in the renewable energy industry.

  7. redskylite Says:

    In the lands where the trouble started in the first place, the U.K is nearly half-way there. Can’t be bad.

    Renewables up to 45% of UK generation as carbon price jumps 25%

    The Haven Power market report updates you on the week’s changes in the energy market. Here’s a summary of the week: Renewables contribute over 45% of UK generation mix.

  8. redskylite Says:

    Great short film from B.B.C on possible M.I.T breakthrough

    The ‘new’ battery that may be vital for a zero carbon future

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