Guardian Scoop–It Was Windy In Portugal For Four Days In May!
By Paul Homewood
The Guardian must be desperate for some news. Yesterday they rehashed some story from last May!
If you can keep your gaze off the hilltops, imagine away the pylons and forget the occasional tractor of an uncertain vintage coughing along the narrow roads, little appears to have changed in the valleys of north-eastern Portugal for decades, perhaps even centuries.
The gnarled alvarinho vines have been relieved of their fruit to make vinho verde, an old woman in black herds her sheep through a hamlet and hungry eagles hover over the fields, scanning the land for lunch.
But look up, past the villages, the clumps of stout ponies and the wolf-haunted forests of pine, oak and eucalyptus, and the harbingers of an environmental revolution are silhouetted against the December sky.
The 130 giant wind turbines that sprout from the peaks, slicing the air with a rhythmic sigh, have helped Portugal to a remarkable achievement. For four and a half days in May the country ran entirely on electricity from renewable sources: wind, hydro and solar power.
Despite fears of a blackout, the lights stayed on for a record 107 hours between 6.45am on Saturday 7 May and 5.45pm the following Wednesday.
Francisco Ferreira, president of the Portuguese environmental NGO Zero, got wind of what was going on when a friend called that weekend. “He said: ‘I’ve been looking at the graphs and for the past two days we’ve been 100% renewable on electricity production.’ After that, we looked at the data and arrived at 107 hours. We confirmed it with the national energy network, who said we’d had 4.5 days.
“It was great to see that the system was working; to see that we could manage all these renewables even though the circumstances were quite challenging.”
Ferreira and his fellow clean energy advocates hold up those few days as further proof that renewables can reliably replace fossil fuels.
Wow, four whole days! I wonder what happens during the other 361?
A look at the BP statistics shows that things are not as straightforward as the Guardian would like you to believe.
Last year, the vast bulk of Portugal’s power still came from fossil fuels:
Much of Portugal’s renewable energy comes from hydro power, which has been around for many years.
However, it is highly reliant on the weather. In recent years its contribution has varied from as little as 10% to as much as 30%.
There are also big seasonal variations, with more power available in winter months.
Hydro power certainly has its attractions, but can only work with adequate backup from a reliable source.
As for wind, far from the grandiose claims made, output actually fell last year, and is barely above the level in 2010.
The Guardian article unwittingly reveals the real illogicality of all of this, when it says:
But that does not lessen the achievement of linking up hundreds of dispersed renewable power plants instead of taking the easier option of relying on production from one large thermal one.
Yes, why take the easy way out when there’s a much more difficult one!