Portugal, Embraces Alternative Energy

I always get disappointed when I hear politicians like Stephen Harper claim that we have to choose between the economy or the environment, but we can’t have both.

CBC Dispatches recently had an interesting segment (14min to 24:50min) about Portugal’s energy dilemma; a rising population with no oil supply of their own.  Alternative energies are their only option, but rather than oppose change, they embraced the challenge, setting a goal to produce 30% of the countries energy using alternative means.  Well, guess what, they exceeded their target, two years early and now producing 42% of the countries energy from clean, renewable sources.

One interesting source of their renewable energy, is the Pelamis or ‘sea-snake’, a long 140m tube which converts the motion of ocean waves into electricity.  The first of it’s kind is now floating off the Portuguese shore, with plans to launch many more.

Portugal’s alternative energy doesn’t stop at sea, they also have the largest photovoltaic farm in the world, with over 2,500 panels each the size of a tennis court.  It’s estimated these solar panels will produce enough power for 30,000 households.

Many countries oppose wind energy because the turbines clutter the landscape. But communities in Portugal are fighting to get more, since each community receives 7,500 euros annually per turbine.

Portugal’s minister of economy and innovation, Manuel Pinho said:

“Finland is very good in mobile phones; Portugal wants to be good in renewable energy. We are among the top five in the world, and we are just in the beginning of the process.  Renewable energy is the source of energy for the future and we think this can create an industrial revolution and a lot of opportunities for jobs and research, and we want to be ahead of the curve.” – Guardian

Wow, talk about forward thinking!  I wish Canada had some leadership like that…