Little nation has big green ideas

P'rtugal may become a real-life test case for renewable energy. The country has no coal, no oil.

P'rtugal may become a real-life test case for renewable energy. The country has no coal, no oil. Though Portugal is heavily agricultural there's no corn lobby, no rapeseed industry, no huge dependence on fertilizer, no local auto companies. Chief exports for Portugal include wine, fish, beef, olive oil, cork. A major import: tourists and they leave plenty of money behind.

The government and private corporations are pushing hard to make Portugal a center for renewable energy. Solar. Wind. Waves. They've got miles of Atlantic Coast, plenty of windy weather and a Mediterranean climate that features plenty of sunny days in the warm months. How much are they spending? Enough that the Portugal Economy Minister says it's a "second industrial revolution."

Many of the solar panels and wind turbines will be assembled in Portugal by local workers even though the tech is coming from Britain and elsewhere. The wave energy equipment is already ebing shipped in from Scotland and is to be used in the world first commercial wave energy installation.So much green tech is being exported some British news accounts are starting to whine.

Portugal is using its mountain streams as well, and the overall plan calls for every major stream in the nation to be dammed for hydroelectric. That's not pleased environmental groups and legal battles aree brewing. One man's green can be another man's brown.

Portugal is officially aiming to have 45% of its energy from renewables by the end of 2010. After that the sky, specifically the sunlight and rainfall, is the limit. The rest of Europe is watching closely.


Comments have raised questions about Portugal's economy. It has shown the wesakest growth of the western European nations and has public expenditures that are rampant, sorta like the good old U.S. of A. But Portugal doesn't even have the excuse of a multiple wars, and already has a sales tax of over 20%! High even by European standards.

One talkback questions the validity of seeing Portugal as an agricutlural nation. Here's link to current economics stats. One third of Portugal's exports are manufactured goods, but over half are raw materials and consumer goods. Internally the services industry is dominant and heavily dependent on tourism.