Portugal just passed a major milestone toward carbon neutrality. Between May 7 and May 11, the country ran its electric grid entirely on renewable energy, as reported by The Guardian and picked up by Gizmodo. Using just hydro, wind, and solar power, the country kept its grid up and running.
Portugal has invested heavily in wind power over the last few years, with turbines providing 22 percent of the country’s electricity in 2015. Renewables on the whole provided 48 percent of the country’s power last year.
Previously, Portugal reported that it had used renewable energy for 70 percent of its energy needs in the first three months of 2013. Portugal isn’t the only country making major strides toward replacing its gas, oil, and coal use with renewables (though the most ambitious carbon-neutral plans have come from individual cities such as Copenhagen, which has plans to be carbon neutral by 2025). Countries like the UK and Sweden have already pledged to go carbon neutral by 2050 or sooner, and the Netherlands recently introduced a plan to make all roads emissions-free by 2025. Germany ran its grid for a day using almost entirely renewable energy just a few days ago.
However, some reports of carbon-neutrality progress have been overblown. Most recently, Costa Rica was lauded for running on 99 percent renewable energy in 2015. But that figure actually only applied to electricity generation, which makes up only 18 percent of the country’s energy use. Without getting rid of gas-guzzling vehicles and coal, it’s hard to really call a country carbon neutral.