Portugal Renewable Energy Investing

Jeff Siegel

Written By Jeff Siegel

Posted May 1, 2013

If you ever find yourself in Portugal, you must try three things:

  1. Azeitao cheese. This is a sheep’s milk cheese that is produced using a thistle-based rennet instead of a traditional rennet, which is derived from the enzymes of a calf’s stomach. The consistency and flavor is so unique, you’ll never experience anything else like it…

  2. Fresh sardines caught in the morning, then grilled in the afternoon with a little lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.

  3. Portuguese kale soup. This is the perfect comfort food after a long day of hiking through the Algarve region.

I have to tell you that next to Vietnamese food, Portuguese food is probably my favorite cuisine.

And now that it looks like I’ll be heading to Portugal later this year, I’m beyond excited about the culinary experience that awaits me…

Of course, between the sardines, soup, cheese, and of course wine (Chao de Sino Branco, when possible), I will be spending most of my time getting a closer look at how Portugal’s energy economy works — and how it is rapidly developing into one that is heavily weighted in renewables.

In fact, in the first month of 2013 70% of Portugal’s power consumption came from renewable energy.

This is important for two reasons…

One, it proves without a shadow of a doubt that the large-scale integration of renewable energy is not only possible, but achievable and practical in the right environment; and two, those seeking to profit from modern, renewable energy can do so by focusing primarily on those parts of the world where renewable energy is both embraced and necessary.

100% Renewable

Last quarter weather conditions in Portugal were perfect for both hydro and wind: Increased wind and an increase in water flow resulted in hydro supplying 37% of the nation’s power and wind supplying 27% of the nation’s power.

Not only is this quite spectacular from a renewable standpoint, but from a growth angle, it’s a pretty big deal.

At 37%, hydro enjoyed a 312% increase over last year, and at 27%, wind enjoyed a 60% increase.

Of course, Portugal’s renewable energy sector was also bolstered by a 2.3% dip in energy usage.

Solar still came in pretty low, however, providing about 0.7% of demand.

Either way, in the first three months of 2013 Portugal enjoyed the benefits of strong hydro and wind supplies. And it should be noted that back in 2011 (for a few hours, anyway) Portugal actually generated 100% of its power from renewables.

This, my friends, will be the trend going forward in Portugal.

But what about the United States?

More than one way to make a buck

Lawmakers in Portugal did the heavy lifting back in 2000 to create a smart grid that renewable energy producers could connect to. Today that effort has allowed the country to distribute an enormous amount of renewable energy while weaning itself off coal and gas exports.

This has certainly provided a small amount of wiggle room for a country that is muddling through a brutal recession.

That being said, because of the recession, continued renewable energy investment is at risk, at least in the near term. And while I fully believe Portugal’s ability to make renewables work on a massive scale makes it a premier spot for renewable energy investment, I’d be hesitant to jump into those waters anytime soon.

Quite frankly, on the renewable energy side of things, I think one of the safest places to be right now is the United States, where solar installations continue to soar and transmission projects in the Midwest are rapidly being constructed in an effort to connect gigawatts worth of wind power to the grid.

Of course, in the U.S. you’re still going to get the most bang for your buck in domestic oil and gas…

In fact, major players in the natural gas game got a bump this week after the EPA lowered its estimates of how much methane leaks during the production of natural gas.

This had been a major talking point for environmentalists opposed to the continued production of natural gas and other fossil fuels… The truth is producers actually have an economic interest in limiting the amount of product that gets “lost” in these leaks.

So yes, in the domestic oil and gas space, things continue to chug along nicely…

This doesn’t mean you should turn a cold shoulder to renewables, though.

Certainly in the solar space, you can make a small fortune — particularly in disruptive solar technologies.

Solar installation plays are great over the long term: like SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY), for instance.

And don’t even get me started on electric cars. Have you seen the chart for Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) recently?


Of course, if you’re not quite ready to load up on alternative energy stocks, another smart way to invest in alternatives is simply to use them. From high-efficiency window replacements to weatherizing your home to slapping up a bit of solar on your roof, over the long haul, these upgrades can not only save you money on your electric bills, but can add significant resale value for your home.

Point is when it comes to modern energy solutions — whether it’s domestic fracking stocks or personal investments in solar and energy efficiency — there’s more than one way to make a buck.

Might as well employ as many as you can!

To a new way of life and a new generation of wealth…

Jeff Siegel Signature

Jeff Siegel

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Jeff is the founder and managing editor of Green Chip Stocks. For more on Jeff, go to his editor’s page.

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