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Step forward for wave energy in Portugal

Sep 26, 2008 - RenewableEnergyFocus.com

350,000 homes in Portugal could be powered by electricity harnessed from the power of the Atlantic Ocean’s waves, following the launch of a commercial wave power farm in Póvoa do Varzim, South of Porto.

The wave power farm harnesses energy produced by ocean waves which is brought ashore by a submarine cable and fed directly into the national distribution grid controlled by Energias de Portugal (EdP). Initially it will provide 2.25MW of electricity, enough for around 1,500 homes.

With over 800 kilometres of coastline, Portugal is well placed to benefit from wave power as part of EU’s target to achieve 20 per cent of its energy consumption by green, renewable sources by 2020.

In fact, Portugal, a pioneer in renewable energy, achieved the EU’s 2020 target three years ago, and is already on track to achieve 45 per cent of all its power from renewable sources by 2010. Some energy experts predict that Portugal will be able to source 20 per cent of its energy needs from the sea.

In terms of other renewable energy sources, being one of the sunniest countries in Europe, Portugal has invested heavily in capturing solar energy. Three of the world’s biggest solar power plants are being built in Portugal including the world’s largest in Moura, southern Portugal. This solar plant comprises of 350,000 solar panels spread over an area the size of 150 football pitches. In addition Europe’s largest wind farm with 120 wind turbines is currently being constructed in the Minho Valley, northern Portugal. When complete it will supply enough energy for 750,000 homes – equivalent to around 12 per cent of Portugal’s energy requirements.

But as suitable locations for dams and onshore wind farms become harder to find, interest in the wave power potential of Portugal’s 832 kilometres of coastline is expected to increase.

Manuel Pinho, Portugal’s Minister for The Economy and Innovation, said: "This wave farm will provide electricity to 1,500 homes by the end of the year and once fully operational could provide electricity to 350,000 homes. We are on track for 45 per cent of consumption from renewable energy sources by 2010 but actually a 2020 target of between 55 and 60 percent is perfectly feasible."