Portugal Utility Plans To Export Solar Energy to Germany

EDP-Energias de Portugal SA’s former head of finance plans to avoid austerity-driven cuts in support for solar projects in the country by exporting power to Germany.

Rui Horta e Costa, the founder of solar company Luz.On and past chief financial officer of Portugal’s largest utility, is seeking to develop parks delivering power to northern European countries that still pay preferential tariffs for renewables.

“What I’m interested in is not in supplying renewable energy to Portugal,” Horta e Costa said in a phone interview. Northern nations such as Germany “are still incentivizing the use of renewable energy with significant tariffs,” he said.

Portugal, which with Spain has the most sunshine in Europe, halted licensing of new renewable developments in January after pressure from Europe amid the euro-region crisis. Germany still offers feed-in tariffs and the 2009 European Union Renewables Directive allows countries to count imports in its targets for boosting clean energy use, Horta e Costa said.

“Europe is very dependent on oil, which it doesn’t produce,” he said. “It’s an uncomfortable position to be in when you think that in energy terms we are very vulnerable to what happens in other places outside Europe.”

Obstacles to the Luz.On’s plan include the variations in nations’ energy-export laws, even as the European Commission’s renewables road map said it planned to “liberalize the internal electricity market” to spur investment and help meet targets.

“You need to make sure that the European market allows energy to circulate freely,” Horta e Costa said, adding the region needs to link national grids through a new regulator.

“We would be able to create not only a cluster of energy producing facilities in Portugal but also the equipment supply for those,” he said. “That means the creation of jobs.”

Image: PV panels in Portugal via Shutterstock.

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