Wind and solar produce more than half of Portugal’s electricity for the first time

  • Brussels

  • 18 May 2023

Portugal hits monthly record among signs of wind and solar expansion across Europe

New data from energy think tank Ember reveals that Portugal reached a major milestone of producing more than half (51%) of its electricity from wind and solar in April. The previous monthly record high was 49%, set in December 2021. 

Portugal’s record of 50% from wind and solar comes despite relatively modest wind generation. Strong deployment of solar capacity pushed solar generation to an all-time high of 360 GWh in April, significantly higher than the previous record of 300 GWh in July and August of 2022. Last year, the country installed 0.9 GW of solar photovoltaics, increasing its solar capacity by more than 50% to 2.5 GW. 

The increase in solar generation, electricity imports from Spain and lower demand were able to shield Portugal from the negative effects of low hydro generation and kept the share of fossil generation to just 24% in April. Droughts throughout last year and in spring 2023 put a stress on many mediterranean countries. Portugal was affected by low output from hydro power stations, with droughts also impacting Spain and Italy. 

“Portugal is entering the next stage of its energy transition. Wind power and interconnection made it possible for Portugal to phase out coal in 2021; solar is now pushing gas off the grid.”

Matt Ewen Data Analyst, Ember
Wind and solar hit highs in many EU countries as spring begins

Neighbouring Spain also saw all-time records of solar generation in April (4.2 TWh, 22%), with even higher records expected in the summer months when solar generation is typically at its peak. Wind and solar combined was also near record high levels in Spain, with 46% of electricity produced. Taking imports into account, the two countries of the Iberian peninsula together met 49% of their electricity demand with wind and solar in April. 

Strong growth and consistent performance of solar and wind led to a number of other records across EU countries this spring. Sweden hit an all time high in February of this year with more than a quarter (27%) of electricity coming from wind and solar. Finland saw wind and solar reach a record 29% of generation in April. Belgium also recorded an all-time high for wind and solar generation and share of electricity in April, with 2 TWh and 29%.

“As Europe emerges from a crisis winter, strong growth of wind and solar are paying dividends. This spring, renewables are already lessening the impact of droughts and high electricity prices across the EU, as well as lowering emissions. The lightning pace of deployment, especially of solar, promises many more records to come this summer.”

Nicolas Fulghum Energy and Climate Data Analyst, Ember