Not all countries have their own carbon-fuel sources to rely on, but some European countries are finding ways to become less reliant on importing oil and gas by tapping into their own renewable resources. Portugal is investing in wind and solar energies at a rapid rate and has even become an energy exporter. Projects using hydropower and ocean waves are also providing clean energy that is cost-effective to many industries.
Over the past five years, Portugal has multiplied its land-based wind power by a factor of seven. They are expected to roll out a national network of charging stations for electric cars as early as next year. These are very impressive timescales that have been made possible by a great amount of political will.
Meanwhile, President Obama relies on BP’s oil spill to push his meager goal of 20 to 25 percent of electricity generated by renewable sources by 2025. Ireland, Britain, Denmark, Canada, and Brazil are all scheduled to be receiving 40 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by that time. Incentives to pursue renewable energy sources are powerful motivators that haven’t really been implemented in the United States.
America is so concerned with keeping electricity prices low – much lower than Portugal has been paying for some time – that it has slowed the movement for much-needed restructuring of the power grid. Politicians will not be favored for increasing people’s electricity bills if they are not presented with significant long-term benefits. Well, how’s this? Portugal will be able to shut down at least two fossil fuel power plants by 2014 as well as slow the operation of others.