According to the most recent data published on the sector, from January to December 2010, the annual production of electricity in the Azores came to 849.636 MWh, which translates into a growth of 2.5%, in relation to the previous year.
During this period, the structure of energy production in the Azores was: 72% from Thermal sources and 28% from Renewable sources (63.6% of thermal production came from Fuel and 8.3% came from Diesel; 20.4% of renewable production came from Geothermal production and 7.6% came from Water and Wind.
During this period and for the Renewable energy sources, Geothermal energy suffered a 7.3% increase. Hydroelectric generation has risen sharply by 39% due to heavy rains and wind energy source increased by 8.4%. Being Energy a strategic and fundamental sector for the competitiveness of companies and for the well-being of citizens, a significant and continued commitment towards the diversification of energy sources, mainly renewable, was undertaken, as well as in the promotion of energy efficiency, in the Autonomous Region of the Azores.
In this sense and at the end of 2009, a protocol was signed between the Regional Government of the Azores, the Foundation for Science and Technology, MIT Portugal and the University of the Azores, with a view to implementing the Green Islands project.
This protocol associated 18 teams of the University of the Azores to this project, which concentrated their investigation in the most diverse areas with a view to promoting a Sustainable System of Energy, which takes advantage of the potential of the existing endogenous resources and transforms the Azores into a laboratory and a region of reference in the domains of energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies. The proposed target will be that 75% of the Energy produced in the Azores in 2018 will come from Renewable sources.
The areas of activity of these teams will be focused on the characterisation of energy consumption patterns, the energy efficiency of buildings, the characterisation of renewable resources for the production of electrical energy, as well as in the design of pilot-projects.
Several sources of renewable energy in the Azores will be explored, which includes solar power, wind power, water power, geothermal and biomass power, as well as the production of energy from waves and maritime currents.
The work undertaken by these teams, incorporated in the Green Islands project, is financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology, under development by MIT-Portugal. Given the specific characteristics and benefits of this project, private investors have already recognised its business potential and manifested their interest in participating in the project.
Together with the implementation of this project, 116.7 million Euros is already foreseen in the Investment Plan (2010-2014) for the Energy Sector to increase electricity production based on Renewable Energies, whose weight will represent 52% of total production in the Azores until 2014.
Among these investments, it is important to note the construction of new Geothermal power stations on the islands of São Miguel and Terceira, new Wind Power Stations in São Miguel and Faial and new Hydro Power Stations on the islands of Flores and São Jorge. The remaining power stations will be subject to an increase in capacity or remodelling.