International Study of RE-Regions: Madeira Archipelago, Portugal

Keywords: renewable energy region, 100% renewable energy self sufficiency region, Madeira Archipelago, renewable energy in Madeira Archipelago.

Madeira is a Portuguese Archipelago which is located in the north Atlantic Ocean (Figure 1). It is one of the Portugal autonomous region. This archipelago consists of some islands and main islets. They are Madeira Island, Porto Santo Island, Desertas Islands,[1][2] Selvagens Islands.[2] From those islands and islets, only Madeira Island and Porto Santo Island have inhabitants,[1] Desertas and Selvagens Islands do not have permanent inhabitants.[2]

Funchal is the capital city of Madeira Autonomous Region. The city is located in the south cost of Madeira Island. It is a modern city with the number of population around 100,000 inhabitants. Tourism is an important sector in the reason it contributes GDP around 20% to the region. The island of Porto Santo (9 km long beach) is entirely devoted to tourism. Over the past decade it has recorded a substantial increase in its hotel accommodation capacity. Development in Madeira is considered to have future potential since the necessary infrastructure has been established and adequate investment incentives have been introduced for expanding its hotel and catering structure in a controlled manner. Nature conservation is seen as important because it is a major draw for tourists to Madeira.[1]

Background of Renewable Energy Development

The regions present some specific problem of energy supply and the major energy networks (natural gas and electricity) are not available and are not expected to be. As the consequence of the isolation and distance, this archipelago are very dependent on oil products and energy supply (electricity supply). Oil products and a relatively small dimension of the energy systems are transported by the maritime. Major oil alternatives are usually not feasible in these regions. In the other hand renewable energies and rational use of energy are frequently attractive due to over-costs and higher prices of energy supply and the availability of natural conditions. Insular regions seem to have ideal conditions for some development of new energy technologies.

The Energy Performance

The primary energy sources in Madeira Archipelago is represented by the local resources around 8% and the rest is imported oil products around 92% (Figure 2).

The local energy resources which have a high share in the regional energy balance of the archipelago are hydroelectric and forest biomass (firewood). Biomass is used to produce heat in residential and industrial sectors. Other types of energy, wind and solar have a share not so high but still considerable important as renewable energy sources (Figure 3). Those both energy sources have a relatively high potential to be developed in the future. The energy from solid waste in the waste treatment plant is possible to be established in the future to produce energy.

Regarding to electricity production in the archipelago in 1999, the contribution of hydro energy was 16% and wind energy was 2%. The remaining was diesel with around 82%. Energy from diesel was produced by diesel power plant using fuel-oil (Figure 4).


For Madeira Archipelago, local energy resources and the rational use of energy are very important to reduce import of energy (Table 1). A large of potential savings was estimated in the residential, buildings, transports, and industry.

[2]Table 1. Energy Utilization in Madeira Archipelago[2]

The load demand of electricity in the peak period is 100 MW and in the off-peak period is 35 MW. There is an increasing number of demand corresponds to an average growth of 7%/year. In 7 years the electricity demand increased from 261,30 GWh in 1990 to 418,08 GWh in 1997. The increasing electricity demand is due to the residential and the tertiary sectors. In December 1997, the annual peak of demand in Madeira Island was 100 MW. It was 5.4% higher that the peak in 1996. The peak in Porto Santo Island in August 1997 was 4 MW. It was 5.3% higher than in 1996 as the result of the tourism demand. The total electricity consumption in 1997 (final users) was 418,08 GWh, which 405,02 GWh belonged to Madeira Island and 13,06 GWh belonged to Porto Santo Island. This number showed an increasing of 4.5% in Madeira Island and 9.9% in Porto Santo Island compared to the number in 1996. During the next decade, the growth of the electric power supply capacity will be essentially based on the thermal production. It is not forecasted a large development on renewable energies for the near future to follow the increase of the demand.

Renewable Energy Development

In the 50’s the first steps are taken to exploit hydroelectric power. At present an ambitious strategy of RES valorisation has been designed, embracing all the renewable energy sources available on the island.


Water is used for many purposes (drink water and agriculture). During winter, it is used for energy before finally is rejected to the sea. Water sources is available at high altitude (>1000 m) and is needed at low altitude.


There are two sites of wind production in Madeira Island and one site in Porto Santo Island. The actual capacity is 5,340 kW in Madeira Island (private) and 450 kW in Porto Santo Island (utility). In the end of 2000, it was initiated the amplification of wind park in Madeira Island (5 turbines of 660 MW) and in Porto Santo Island (one turbine of 660 MW).


Biomass used comes from firewood and forest residues. It is used for heating, hot water, cooking and baking. The quantities of firewood and forest residues are 30,000 tonnes for residential (mainly in rural areas) and 9,500 tonnes for industrial, other sectors 2,500 tonnes. There was a project of waste treatment plant which will include incineration with energy recovery and a study of biogas production from animal waste and slaughter houses.


Sun availability is 2400 hours/year with average radiation of 6.4 (in July) up to around 2.2 (in December) kWh/(m

.day). The area of thermal collectors is 3500 m2. Estimation of energy valorisation is 99 toe (hot water) + 1,150 toe (heating in greenhouses).