In 2010, Portugal had 155 small hydropower plants with a total installed capacity of 450 MW generating 1,370 GWh. By 2020, the aim is to have 250 small hydropower plants with a total installed capacity of 750 MW, with the purpose of producing 2,032 GWh, which represents an increase of 66.7 % with respect to the capacity installed in 2010. Portugal aims for 60 % renewable share for its electricity generation by 2020 in order to satisfy 31 % of its final energy consumption. Small hydropower should contribute with 1,511 GWh of the total electricity generated in the country in 2020 (Liu et al. 2013).
Hydropower Installed Capacity
The country has, in 2012, around 4.088 GW of hydropower capacity installed The small hydropower potential to be installed in the country by 2020 was estimated to be 700 MW and the 250 MW projected potential referred to in the Cabinet Resolution 72/2010 and Decree-Law 126/2010, but only 150 MW were made available for development until 2013. So far, only a few projects have actually taken off, while the rest, around 25 projects, are still undergoing environmental impact studies. With respect to public support and social acceptance of small hydropower development, there is no major opposition at the moment to the construction of new small hydropower plants (Liu et al. 2013).
The energy private industry in Portugal is expected to invest €666 million in order to support the construction of two hydropower plants in the country—the Alvito and the Fridao. According to Diario Economico, the private industry is aim- ing to invest a total of €2 billion by 2016 in the construction of new dams and reparation of existing hydropower projects.
Hydropower Electricity Generation
The participation of hydropower in Portugal’s energy mix in 2012 is shown in Fig. 3.29.
According to Fig. 3.29, the participation of hydropower in the generation of electricity in Portugal in 2012 reached 30.62 %, second only to thermal. In 2013, the participation of hydropower in the generation of electricity in the country increased up to 37 %, an increase of 6.38 % with respect to 2012. Portugal occupies the place number 33 according to the total hydropower capacity installed (0.43 % of the world’s total). At the European level, the country occupies the place number 11 with respect to the total regional capacity installed (2.43 % of the total).
The evolution of the generation of electricity in Portugal using hydropower plants during the period 2008–2012 is shown in Fig. 3.30. According to this figure, the generation of electricity in Portugal using hydropower plants decreased 18.2 %. However, during the period 2008–2010, the generation of electricity using hydropower plants increased 137.5 %, but after 2010, the generation of electricity using this type of energy sources decreased 63.5 %. It is expected that the generation of electricity using hydropower plants will continue the current trends at least during the coming years.