As the world faces worsening environmental challenges, activists and politicians alike are pushing for much wider use of renewable energy sources. Critics say that it’s just not feasible to replace fossil fuels on a large scale, but Portugal’s recent accomplishment might make it harder to make that claim.
Six straight days
Between Oct. 31 and Nov. 6, the entire country — more than 10 million citizens in total — received all of their power via wind, solar, and water. Of course, there were traditional power plants available to kick in if the renewable energy ran out, but it didn’t come to that for nearly an entire week.
While this was an encouraging step toward replacing gas and coal with green energy, it’s worth noting that it falls far short of the goals put forward by the Paris Agreement. By mid-century, nations that have signed the accord are expected to produce entirely carbon-neutral energy.
Some nations have already made significantly greater strides toward meeting the Paris Agreement standards, but they’ve generally done so via different avenues than Portugal has taken. For example, some countries have invested heavily in nuclear power, which Portuguese officials have thus far eschewed.
Instead, the country has done some particularly hard work, such as storing rainwater for later use and building a host of modern generators that operate on renewable energy sources.
In addition to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 2050 standard, Portugal has established a few of its own upcoming objectives.
By the end of this decade, the country wants 85% of its energy to be renewable. And by 2040, it hopes to eliminate all gas generation, which is a big deal since more than 20% of the nation’s energy between January and October came from this source.