Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Green stimulus in Portugal?

by DoDo Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 06:47:47 AM EST

Like the government of almost every EU member country, the Socialist minority government of Portugal reacted to the sovereign bonds crisis orchestrated by ratings-agencies in the face of exploding budget deficits by implementing an austerity programme (since March), including social cuts and privatisations. However, taz reports that the government still wants to maintain and boost investment into renewables.

Compared to 3,535 MW of installed wind capacity at the end of last year and a 35.9% share of renewables in the 2009 electricity consumption (wind alone 15.03%), by 2020, the government wants to boost wind installations to 8,500 MW, and also add eight (mid-sized) hydroelectric plants totalling 1,300 MW, adding 121,000 jobs with a combined public and private investment of €32 billion. According to an unspecified industry study, even a 82% penetration of renewables in electricity would be possible by 2020.

On the sceptical side,

  • I wonder how much of this is hot talk and how much is actual new commitments.
  • In dry Portugal, even mid-sized dams in place of more small dams is questionable (see f.e. the controversy of the 240 MW Alqueva dam).
  • For Portugal to achieve the desired reduction of energy imports depedence, electricity production is not enough: for example, a massive expansion of electric public transport (electrified railways, subways, trams, trolley buses) would be needed to stall oil consumption in the transport sector.

Can someone speaking Portuguese find more details of the government proposals and the industry study? (I couldn't find any mention in English, or another mention in German.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 03:48:41 AM EST
Meanwhile, across the pond:

FT.com / UK - Green lobby sees chance to end addiction to fossil fuels

Birds covered in oil make a great advertisement for renewable energy.

Wind turbine makers and solar panel companies were stepping up their lobbying of lawmakers in the US after Barack Obama, the president, made another pitch for "clean energy" in his Oval Office speech. They see the current crisis as a unique opportunity to push the benefits of "clean" energy over fossil fuels. Several US-listed solar power companies saw their share price rise as investors anticipated Mr Obama's speech last night.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 04:22:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But any serious push on renewables will have to overcome opposition from "deficit hawks", some of whom are blind, others of whom are deliberately obtuse, who cannot see or refuse to see the difference between investment in a project that can pay for itself and more financial manipulation and gamesmanship. Clearly explaining the difference is subversive to the existing financial hegemony in US politics, so I will be (pleasantly) surprised if Obama does it.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 10:41:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am NOT a specialist (Luís will probably appear and his opinion is more informed in this topic, by far), but I have a few tidbits to offer (to be eaten with large doses of salt):

  1. I think Portugal has the biggest EU per capita ratio of cars. Ditto for kilometres of highway per capita and per area.

  2. There has been a large dis-investment in trains (The TGV to Lisbon is, IMHO, minor with the fact that normal trains were dismantled to the rural parts of the country in the last 2 decades)

3."dry" Portugal is rather heterogeneous. Alqueva is is in the extreme dry South, but all other dams are in wetter places. I think most of the new dams will be made in the North and should provide electra for circa 1 million people (this number requires confirmation).

4. The other policy is along with renewables and conservation seems to be... electrical cars.

by t-------------- on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 06:11:11 AM EST
  1. Checking with Eurostat, cars per 1,000 inhabitants, 2006: Portugal is only 405 (Luxembourg: 656, Italy: 597, Germany: 566); motorways: per capita it seems really high per capita, on a quick head calculation only Spain and Sweden seem to match Portugal, but the Netherlands well exceeds them.

  2. Yes, the hgh-speed trains will mostly compete with air traffic only.

  3. That's good to hear. Still, won't those result in large lakes which even drown forests, i.e. would a larger number of smaller dams on tributaries further up in the mountains not be a better solution?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 06:44:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, as I said, I was not completely sure of the data (and time is scarce in the next few days to do proper research).

Just one note (very side): I normally exclude transportation comparisons with the Netherlands as it is an extreme outlier country in many ways (population density, terrain). I simply have no expectation for CP to be compared to NS, because it is impossible.

But the destruction of passenger train transport (especially to rural areas) has been a "feature" of Portugal in the last 25 years.

And bikes are seen as transport for China. From a cultural perspective they are a no-no. And no, while Lisbon is in fact an hilly city, the areas where people go around their business are mostly flat: that is a bad excuse. It is not uncommon for people to justify their opposition to bikes with... rain.

This all to say that the investment in renewables is not "forced by the people" but tied to a very small elite connected to a faction of the Socialist Party. If I may speculate this will not last over 2011 (I expect the parliament to fall in 2011 and the alternative party to win the elections).

Disclaimer: This issue (energy) was the sole reason that made me fly from the middle of the US to vote in the current "socialist" party (read: right of Angela Merkel kind of socialism).

by t-------------- on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 07:01:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How much of the investment will be in local work and how much in imported parts? Obviously building the sites is work done by local companies and contractors, but what about the towers and the turbines? Are there Siemens or GE factories in Portugal, or will turbines and towers etc have to be imported?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 12:16:02 PM EST
This appears to be the website dedicated to and supported by the portuguese cluster of wind energy:


As far as i know there is a lot of local technolgy and Portugal seems to be a net exporter of wind tech. I'm not sure about patents but there is plenty of industrial capacity installed.

I have no useful information regarding a green stimulus, As far as i can tell the "socialist" government threw out of the window all the counter crisis measures they had announced half an year ago and are  now in full austerity mode. Because "There is no Alternative".

by Torres on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 12:41:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems Portugal will become a big wind power manufacturer.

The industrial wind cluster, together with the wind farms to be developed by ENEOP, will have a considerable impact on both the region and the country's economy.

  •    Investment of EUR 200 million.
  •    Creation of 2,000 direct jobs at the new industrial units; several thousand indirect jobs related to building
      and operating the wind farms or supplying raw material.
  •    The main industrial estate will account for 2.5% of regional GDP (Minho-Lima).
  •    GVA generated annually by the cluster: EUR 116 million in cruising year.
  •    Positive effect on the trade balance:
           * Increase in exports:
                         More than 60% of what is generated will be exported.
           * Decrease in imports of wind components:
                         National incorporation will be from the current 20% to practically 100%


Viana do Castelo will be host to an industrial complex of excellence made up of:

  - 5 ENERCON Group factories for the complete manufacturing, in Portugal, of a new model of E-82 wind turbines as well as components for other models. These will make up the most advanced industrial units of the Enercon Group, designed to be adapted ad continuum for the manufacturing of new, more advanced wind turbines for future generations.

         * 2 Rotor blade factories
         * Synchronous generator factory
         * Mechatronics factory (electric modules and nacelles)
         * Concrete tower factory

   - It also features a logistics and transport center and a service and maintenance center for wind turbines.
   - A focus on R&D and technology transfer                    
   - A new vocational training center in Viana do Castelo
   - A new R&D center and partnerships with Portuguese universities

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 03:02:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hope so, much of what i heard about wind lately was voiced to rebuke a sort of energy manifesto by some "serious people" that had plenty of media exposure and implicitly promoted nuclear.
by Torres on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 06:29:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Energy is the single reason I hope the current govt holds. It will hold for more ~8 months (for constitutional reasons there cannot be a parliamentary elections 6 months before presidential elections). But I sincerely doubt it will survive 2011.

Then it is either the nuclear lobby (with no money to build nukes, but they will find a way to grab some commission) or the deficit-control-at-all-costs group.

PS - I am all for a balanced budget, but I would ring fence energy, like they currently say they do.

by t-------------- on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 08:50:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The old Wind vs Nuclear war in Portugal. Another of the stupid things in this country. Most of the folk opining on it are actually clueless...

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 03:47:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the manufacturing jobs are only greater than the operations jobs while rapidly ramping up the pace of installations .... over the long haul, installation and operations substantially outnumber manufacturing jobs.

On a steady state basis, capturing about 1/2 the manufacturing employment can easily mean capturing 3/4+ of the total employment. And of course, the Eurozone as a whole benefits from reduce energy imports by Eurozone countries.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 07:18:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few notes on the issues discussed here so far:

Most of that wind capacity expected for 2020 is already being commissioned, so it is more or less guaranteed, plus wind is popular. As for the dams nothing seems that solid right now; the Socialists had been for it for some time but the real push came from the President (a liberal ex-prime minister). There is great opposition from the remainder of the left, especially the Greens, but even at the right I do not see much enthusiasm; if this government falls to be replaced by a Liberal/Conservative coalition it might not be easy to go ahead with it; with a Liberal majority it might be possible.

The new dam programme is absolutely paramount to take full advantage of the coming wind, and later on solar, capacity. The Greens have been mildly successful at inducing public weariness of Hydropower, just as they did in the past with Nuclear. They say these dams could be replaced by wind, without specifying how storage and load balancing would be made. These new dams are also very important to start reducing Coal imports, actually the only objective option to do so at the moment beyond Nuclear.

Portugal is such a dry place that a few years back had the second largest water consumption per capita in the EU. South of the Tagus, in the region of Alentejo, there are some issues of irrigation mainly due to questionable choices of culture; this is pure cork oak country, but some insist in other things that get  money back sooner. Droughts happen occasionally, if I recall correctly, in 2004 the Guadiana (one of the largest rivers of the Peninsula) almost went dry after a strain of several months without proper rain; but these are rare events, fortunately. Alqueva was finished just after that, providing steady water supplies to most of eastern Alentejo. Irrigation was always the main objective of building Alqueva, not electricity per se.

In fact, at least half of Portugal's hydroelectric potential is unused, which is close to a crime. Certainly the environmental impacts are there, but methods exist to deal with them. To the awe of many, Portugal was the first state to finish a dam fully compliant with the Water Framework Directive, in a time when most member states where still questioning if after this Directive building new dams was even possible. And this was accomplished with Alqueva, that created the largest artificial water body in Europe.

As for transport the Socialist government actually as a plan, sort of. It's a combination of TGV with electric cars and imported bio-diesel. I wont waste my latin with the former. As for electric cars I'm still waiting to see what the proposals by Renault or Mitsubishi are bringing of new comparatively to early XX century electric vehicles; I have a 150 Km bike ride tomorrow, Renault's car can't do something like that. Finally the TGV, this project is still on rails but hanging by a thread, the Socialists are the only party at parliament that support it, everyone else is against it, for this or that mindless reason. Contracts are signed and works should start next year on the Lisbon-Madrid line; later on links from Oporto to Vigo and from Algarve to Seville should be contracted too. If this government is overthrown before that I fear none of it will ever get build... For the TGV to work it will need the commitment from Spain, which with Zapatero is more or less guaranteed, and France for one or two Trans-Pyrenean links. So far the will has been there for all of this to come into place, but who knows what happens if some smart ass gets into government.

There are two obviously flaws with the government's Energy/Transport policy (a) freight transport (b) Coal. Freight transport is the sector where a shift away from fossil fuels can be accomplished with lesser impacts on daily lives. Proper mid-speed rail lines linking to the Pyrenees (which might be accomplished by upgrading existing ones) and the correct incentives to rail a shiping should do it. Certainly, it might mean the re-absorption of many hauling industry workers, but they can be diverted to the new rail or shipping industries. As for Coal, it is the visible part of a larger problem, replacing fossil fuel electric baseload generation. Especially if the private car fleet is shifted to electric the renewable programme might not be enough. Either another large-scale renewable is brought into maturity to complement wind, say solar or tidal/wave, or Nuclear is inevitable. No politician seems ready to take either option.

Portugal is both the worst and best place to be at this stage, one of the most dependent states on foreign energy, but possibly the one with the best prospects for renewables.


by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 03:44:09 PM EST
I take it that it is the latter (the freaking imported destruction of rainforest) that you did not deign to waste your latin on.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 07:20:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Finally the TGV

By the way, a pure etymological question. I see both you and tiagoantao call it "TGV". Why is this? That is, why use it instead of the authority name "RAVE", or the Portuguese/Spanish/Italian acronym "AV", or the English "HSR"? Is it because the French (and Catalan) acronym "TGV" is commonly used in Portuguese media?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 03:07:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi DoDo,

RAVE is the name of a company - Rede ferroviária de Alta VElocidade - or in english High Speed Railroad Network. This is the company that will build and manage the rail lines (not the trains I think). The term TGV is used to specify the train class itself, paying homage to its country of origin; most folk are likelly unaware of its meaning.

Alta Velocide (portuguese for High Speed) is sometimes used in the media by the folk that now, but the really popular term is TGV. In Portugal there is a tendency not to translate these technical terms. Also the portuguese term for train, combóio, has a rather folkish flavour to it, since its original meaning was a group of beasts of burden. It doesn't marry very well with the futuristic high-tech image of the TGV :)


by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 04:10:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
paying homage to its country of origin

Well -- American media is more mindful of the real country of origin (Japan), preferring "bullet train" :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 06:15:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can I give a slightly more broader/off-topic answer?

Until 10/15 years ago Portuguese cultural influences were mainly French. French was also the main foreign language (strangely enough there are more Portuguese speakers in the world than French).

You still can find that in many many ways, say my case: My undergrad is called Engenharia Informática (note the import from the French informatique and not the Anglo-common Computer Science - though informatics is definitely an Anglo thingy). All my degree was imported from France and it definitely had a French flavour (longer, more broad, more theoretically stronger than Anglo versions).

You still note strong undertones of French and German culture in Portuguese culture: more hermetic and more pedantic than Anglo culture. And before somebody says that I am stereotyping go the the Heidegger wiki page and search for a Bertrand Russell quote or find (youtube, maybe?) a famous debate between Chomsky and Foucault where Chomsky alludes precisely to this.

Of course, currently American and British influences are gaining ground.

And, of course, the interactions with Brasil and not be be discounted (import of Republic, legal systems, culture, ...)

by t-------------- on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 07:25:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Anglo-common Computer Science - though informatics is definitely an Anglo thingy

I believe "computer science" is more American English, "informatics" is common elsewhere (and in non-English languages, it's not just French).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jun 20th, 2010 at 06:45:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My intention is not to nitpick, just trying to be rigorous and informative.

Here (UK), Computer Science is the norm. For instance in my school (Liverpool Uni) the department and the degree are both called computer science.

The most symbolic thing I know of, the Alan Turing statue in Manchester has a plaque that reads:


by t-------------- on Sun Jun 20th, 2010 at 08:26:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting. "Informatics" is definitely still in use at some places, so maybe this was another Americanism winning over in Britain. At any rate, it's "Informatik" in German, "informatica" in Dutch, "scienze dell'informazione" in Italian, "informatika" in Hungarian, "informatiky" in Slovakian. But the Russian version at least seems to be a literal translation of "computer science".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 20th, 2010 at 12:58:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I speak against my argument. My area of work is bioinformatics.
by t-------------- on Sun Jun 20th, 2010 at 03:42:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And we'd like to know more about that, please ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 20th, 2010 at 03:57:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few notes:

  1. The "Green" party in Portugal is mostly a spin/puppet of the Communist party. The Communist party (PCP) has an extreme Stalinist tradition and NEVER goes to election alone (always a "broad coalition of popular movements"). While the "Greens" think partially for themselves if they went to elections alone they would get 0 MPs (they have 2 now). All the votes are really of the PCP.

  2. That being said, standard environmental NGOs seem to be utterly demential. I suppose they are OK with wind and solar. But other than that is only conservation (dams and, of course, nuclear are evil). Of course this totally not realistic so the end practical result is that they support massive imports ("dirty" production is OK as long as it is far away - can you say NIMBY? - nuclear is OK if French/Spanish, or oil/gas from not very recommendable places). Interestingly never heard any strong word against bio-diesel (which, IMHO, is the worst of any option).

  3. My biggest friend was actually an environmental engineer in the South (Alentejo) and the network losses of water (between source and tap/irrigation) were above 40% !!!
by t-------------- on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 07:08:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]