Portugal Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources and energy

The mining industry in Portugal has ancient origins but now employs only a fraction of the population. At the same time, revenue from the sector has grown thanks to a modernization and increased investment since Portugal became an EU member. Portugal has traditionally depended on imported oil, but in recent years great efforts have been made on renewable energy.

Copper and tin are mined on a larger scale and the country is the world’s second and third largest producer of marble and tungsten respectively. Other important raw materials extracted are limestone, granite, gold and uranium.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Portugal with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

For their part, conflicts have arisen between mining companies and the local population who oppose the destruction of natural resources due to the consequences for the environment, while the companies press for the state to expropriate land for mining to get started. A large part of the deposits are found on public land, so-called baldios, where local groups traditionally have a great influence on how it can be used.

In several places, disputes have erupted about a possible mining of lithium, Portugal is believed to have assets of about 60,000 tonnes of the metal, where mining companies promise investments of just over $ 3 billion, while resistance to any mines is growing at the grassroots level, and at least five municipalities have made a decision in principle against the exploitation of the deposits.

  • Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, PT stands for Portugal. Visit itypeusa for more information about Portugal.

When it comes to energy, Portugal has been able to reduce its previously so strong dependence on oil. In 2015, oil accounted for just over 3 percent of electricity generation, while coal accounted for nearly 29 percent, natural gas for just over 20 percent and hydropower for just under 17 percent.

In northern Portugal there are several hydropower plants. The capacity varies with the water supply. Alternative energy sources and carbon also contribute to energy supply. Natural gas is increasingly imported via a pipeline from Algeria, but gas is also imported from the Middle East. The hope is to also be able to export this gas to the rest of Europe. In 2015, a joint strategy was signed with Spain and France to better connect the countries’ electricity networks for this purpose. Three years later, the three countries agreed to build an underwater cable between Spain and France, partly with money from the EU. The hope is that it will be put into operation by 2025. Nowadays Portugal produces so much electricity that it could be exported to other European countries if only the electricity grid allows it.

To reduce oil dependence, Portugal has also invested in renewable energy sources. The country has one of the world’s largest solar energy extraction plants, the wind power industry is supported and in the sea outside northern Portugal is the world’s first commercial power plant. The Government’s goal is that 60 percent of all energy will come from renewable sources as of 2020). In 2018, wind and hydro power together accounted for just over 48 percent of all energy consumed.

Until the late 1990s, the then state-owned Energias de Portugal (EDP) had a monopoly on the energy market, but it has since been privatized. In recent years, two Chinese companies have bought into Portuguese power companies.

The investments in renewable energy can be seen in the light of the fact that environmental issues have increased in importance due to the ongoing climate change. Portugal’s biggest environmental problems are soil degradation, air pollution and water shortages, which mainly affect southern Portugal. The consumption of water is higher than the domestic supply. The country’s large rivers flow into Spain where the water accumulates in reservoirs, reducing the inflow to Portugal. In 2002, a new irrigation system favoring southern Portugal became clear. The system includes Europe’s largest dam, Alqueva. Resources to handle hazardous waste have been strengthened. An eco tax has been introduced on certain environmentally hazardous products. The intention is that the revenue from the tax should be used to take care of the products when they land on the dump.

In recent years, Portugal has been hit by major forest fires, which are partly linked to climate change. In the past, forest fires used to occur mainly in July and August, but now the period is extended from June to October, due to the drier and warmer climate. The depopulation of the countryside has also contributed to increasing problems, especially as new tree species that are more flammable have spread to areas that were previously cultivated.

At the Paris 2015 climate summit, Portugal negotiated as part of the EU, and pledged, among other things, not to let global temperatures exceed 2 degrees. In September 2016, the Portuguese government formally signed the Paris Agreement.


Energy use per person

2 132 kilo oil equivalents (2015)

Electricity consumption per person

4663 kWh, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

45 053 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

4.3 tons (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

27.2 percent (2015)



Public employees’ work week is extended

The Constitutional Court decides in a previous trial and says yes to a contentious government decision to extend the work week of civil servants from 35 to 40 hours.

Parliament is voting for a new budget

The government’s plan is to reduce the deficit from 5.6 percent in 2013 to 4 percent in 2014. Several of the measures decided are expected to be tried in the Constitutional Court.


Requirements for the Foreign Minister’s departure

The opposition demands the departure of Foreign Minister Rui Machete, since in an interview with Angolan radio, apologized for the Portuguese national prosecutor investigating financial crime linked to Angolan leaders (see November 2012).

Success for the opposition in the local elections

Following the austerity policy at national level, the ruling party loses a lot of support in local elections, including in Lisbon where the socialist opposition wins big.


No “national rescue pact”

After a few days, the Socialist Party interrupts attempts to contribute to a “national rescue pact”. Party leader Seguro says that the government has said no to almost all proposals on how the loan terms can be renegotiated.

The President calls for a broad settlement

President Cavaco Silva calls on the Government and the Socialist Party to enter into a broad agreement to support all the austerity necessary until the EU and IMF support for Portugal expires in June 2014. Thereafter, the President and the Government should oppose agree to announce new elections. However, the Socialist Party wants the government to renegotiate the terms of Portugal’s support package from the EU. Socialist leader António José Seguro demands that the prime minister publicly admit that austerity policy is a failure.

The CDS-PP leader is given new duties

Faced with the risk of a deeper government crisis, Prime Minister Passos Coelho manages to persuade Portas to remain in the government, but with new duties. He becomes Deputy Prime Minister with special responsibility for coordinating economic policy and responsible for contacts with the “Troika” – the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF.

Political concern when the Foreign Minister resigns

On the following day, Foreign Minister Paulo Portas also resigns in protest against the cuts. Portas is the leader of the CDS-PP government party. His departure creates concern for the government’s cohesion. As a result of the political turmoil, a sharp fall in prices on the stock exchange and interest rates on Portuguese government bonds are rising.

Swap at the finance minister post

Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar resigns after failing to bring down the budget deficit and government debt. He also refers to the general public’s reduced support for the austerity policy. In his decision to resign, the Constitutional Court also rejected several of his proposals for budget cuts. Maria Luís Albuquerque is appointed new finance minister.


New big strike is held

The fourth general strike of two years is carried out during one day in protest of the government’s austerity policy.


New cuts are announced

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho announces cuts to tens of thousands of government jobs, extending working hours and raising pensions. In Lisbon, thousands of people are demonstrating in union-led protests against austerity.


The fight against the budget deficit continues

The government decides to save about EUR 800 million in the state budget. It thus hopes to reduce the budget deficit to 5.5 percent of GDP and secure the next loan payment of EUR 2 billion.

Basic conflicting plans

A court declares that four of the government’s planned budget cuts contravene the constitution. The government can instead be forced into cuts in, among other things, the social, health care and education budget.


Requirements for government resignation

Hundreds of thousands of people are demonstrating in Lisbon, Porto and other cities against austerity and tax increases. There is a demand that the government resign.


Requirements for government resignation

Hundreds of thousands of people are demonstrating in Lisbon, Porto and other cities against austerity and tax increases. There is a demand that the government resign.


Tens of thousands of teachers on strike

Nearly 30,000 teachers are protesting in Lisbon against the government’s plans for cuts in the education budget, which include lower salaries.

Some financial relief

Interest rates fall and Portugal can take back bond loans in the capital market again (see Finance).

Portugal Energy and Environment Facts

About the author