Portugal blasts France over wind exports

Portugal’s energy secretary has accused France of stopping cheap wind energy from the Iberian peninsula reaching European markets by delaying construction of cross-border grid connections.

Portugal could offer both excess electricity and hydro-storage capacity for renewable power from countries such as Germany, Artur Trindade told Recharge at EWEA 2013.

But a faster expansion of wind power and other renewables in Portugal is being held back by the grid bottleneck at the border between Spain and France, which he suspects is protecting the latter’s nuclear industry.

“That goes against the spirit of the internal [European] market,” Trindade says.

“The French government is not complying with the goals that we have for renewable energy, because it’s not letting the market be integrated. If we [in Portugal] can have renewable energy at €65 [$88] or €70 per MWh, why not build more at that price and share it with other countries?”

He said the French government has blamed the lack of permits for transmission lines on  environmental issues.

Trindade added that German companies have contacted him about building renewables plants in Portugal without subsidies, and then using the output to give emissions credits to Germany.

“But they need some kind of assurance that there will be no congestion at the border. Investors say: ‘If the French system doesn’t let me pass, it’s possible that someone will shut me down’.”

Portugal had 10.86GW of renewables capacity at the end of last year: 39% wind and 53% hydro.

The government believes that a competitive market price of less than €65/MWh can be achieved at future wind tenders. But “in practice, the level of grid interconnection will be the limit of renewables expansion in Portugal”, Trindade says.