LISBON - Portugal wants to speed up its energy transition and will double the capacity of its first auction for floating offshore wind farms to 6-8 gigawatts (GW), Environment Minister Duarte Cordeiro said on Wednesday.
As part of a global shift from carbon-emitting fossil fuels, countries are betting on new technologies to boost power generation from renewable energy, such as wind and solar.
In March, the previous environment minister said the auction, which will take place next year, could have a capacity of 3-4 GW but Cordeiro said Portugal "had to increase its ambition" after the war in Ukraine aggravated the energy crisis.
"It's a complex, demanding and ambitious process as we now want to auction 6 to 8 GW...we are exceeding our own previous targets," Cordeiro told a business conference in Lisbon.
Floating wind technology, seen as the final frontier in the offshore wind industry, has gained traction in countries such as Britain, France and parts of south-east Asia. Portugal has a small, 25 megawatts floating wind project off its Atlantic coast.
Portugal has 7.3 GW of hydroelectric capacity and 5.6 GW of onshore wind, which together represent 83% of its total installed capacity.
Committed to become carbon neutral by 2050, Portugal gets 60% of its electricity from renewable sources and wants to reach 80% by 2026 when new offshore wind farms will start operating but it still relies on imported fossil fuels to meet its energy needs.
Cordeiro also said Brussels' final approval of a temporary cap on the benchmark price of gas used by power plants to generate electricity was imminent.
"This mechanism serves as a cushion for the impact of the rise in (gas) prices," he said. "If we already had this mechanism in place in the first quarter, we would have had an 18% reduction in electricity prices in Portugal."
(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Catarina Demony and Barbara Lewis)