With no fossil fuel resources or reserves of its own, Portugal has had to depend on imports to meet its domestic demand for oil and gas. This situation, coupled with European Union targets to cut carbon emissions, has led to substantially increased interest and investment in renewable sources of energy over the last decade.
In 2014, renewables accounted for 62 per cent of the country’s energy mix in terms of the electricity generated. Hydropower amounted to 31 per cent of the mix, occupying half the total share of renewables.
Portugal’s extensive network of hydropower facilities includes an increasingly large share of pumped storage stations, such as the Alqueva I and II facilities. Alqueva II, an extension project, doubled the complex’s installed capacity to 512 MW when it was connected to the grid in 2013.
Another pumped storage project, Venda Nova III (756 MW), is currently under construction. This station will include two pump turbines with variable speeds. The facility should come online by the end of 2015, bringing the total installed capacity of Venda Nova up to 1,038 MW.
Salamonde II (207 MW) is also currently undergoing an upgrade which should come online in August 2015, bringing the total installed capacity of the Salamonde facility to 250 MW.
Other recent additions to installed capacity include the Baixo Sabor plant (173 MW), which brought its first 30 MW unit online in the first quarter of 2015, and the Ribeiradio – Ermida facility (80.8 MW), which commenced operations in 2014.
In early 2015, construction work began on the three dams which will comprise the Alto Tâmega complex (1,158 MW) in northern Portugal. The project, which is expected to be completed in 2023, will also improve distribution infrastructure linking northern Portugal with the neighbouring region of Galicia in Spain, primarily through upgrades to existing power lines.
The Foz Tua station (263 MW) is also under construction now, slated for completion in 2016.
Policy developments in 2014 included a new 0.85 per cent tax on the energy and utility sector’s fixed assets. The revenue of around EUR 150 million will go towards the new Fund for Systematic Sustainability of the Energy Sector (FSSSE), which aims to finance social and environmental programmes while reducing the tariff deficit of the electricity system in Portugal.
This country profile was last updated in August 2015. You can find all our latest country profiles and regional overviews in the 2016 Hydropower Status Report, which you can download here.