photo by Somerset Bob (Flickr Creative Commons)

During a trip last month from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon to its second largest city Porto, in the north of the country, I noticed a lot of wind turbines dotting the landscape. I’m not the only one either.

The New York Times published a piece yesterday on Portugal’s green makeover. Wind, hydro, solar and wave power are fueling the small Iberian republic’s move from fossil fuels to renewable energy – and they’ve got the resources to do it.

Few countries in Europe have these key ingredients: lots of wind and sun, suitable rivers and a coastline complete with powerful waves and ocean currents. These clean sources of energy will provide 45% of Portugal’s electricity this year. By 2025, other European nations – Denmark, Ireland and the UK – are expected to source at least 40% of their power from renewables.

That’s double of what is expected of the US.

Land-based wind power — this year deemed “potentially competitive” with fossil fuels by the International Energy Agency in Paris — has expanded sevenfold in that time. And Portugal expects in 2011 to become the first country to inaugurate a national network of charging stations for electric cars.

–New York Times

Since Portugal is low in fossil fuel deposits, but high in renewable resources, this transition hasn’t required a raise in taxes or public debt. What it has or currently imports in the form of gas, coal and oil are replaced by domestic clean power. It even exports a small amount of electricity to Spain.

Read more in the following two articles in New York Times by Elisabeth Rosenthal:

Portugal Gives Itself a Clean-Energy Makeover

Beyond Fossil Fuels: Costs and Benefits