In the late ’80s, Portugal brought a massive new coal-burning power plant online in Sines, and less than two decades later it was called out by the WWF as being one of the largest producers of CO2 emissions in all of Europe. It ranked 13 on the 2007 “Dirty 30” list.
Now, however, the tables are turning. For four whole days, Portugal produced enough clean, sustainable electricity to meet the needs of its people. That’s thanks to a big push toward solar, wind, and hydro power and a little nudge from the EU — which issued a directive stating that member nations need to produce at least 31% from renewable sources.
According to reports, Portugal’s green run lasted from 6:45 AM Saturday, May 7 until 5:45 PM the following Wednesday. That totaled 107 straight hours during which the country didn’t have to look to coal or natural gas to pick up the slack.
This is the second big win we’ve seen for renewable energy in the EU this month. Just last week the German government reported that the country produced so much renewable energy on a particularly sunny, windy Sunday that there was a power surplus. Gas plants automatically shut down during the surge, but coal and nuclear facilities couldn’t switch off as fast — so Germans were essentially paid to suck the extra power out of the grid.