100% self-sufficient renewable power strategy

The Zero program by Aguas de Portugal


With the last fully intact ice shelf collapsing this July 2020, we have hope that the water sector contributes to leading the world into a future where we can all thrive. It is essential for societies to become climate neutral, and this is what the AdP- Águas de Portugal Group is anticipating.

What happens in the arctic affects us all, and this is just one more reason for the AdP- Águas de Portugal Group to achieve energy neutrality by 2030 across all of its activities globally. Last Wednesday, 29th July 2020 I presented a program to reduce energy consumption and boost production of 100% renewable energy. Named the ZERO program.

The Águas de Portugal group participates in projects across the world, especially in Portuguese language speaking countries as is the case with Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe and East Timor. In this way, the AdP Group positions itself as the first international group to attain carbon energy neutrality at this scale.

The ZERO Program anticipates that the AdP Group will obtain energy neutrality within a period of ten years, based on a continued strategy of consumption reduction and increasing the group’s own production of 100% renewable energy.

The AdP Group is the largest public consumer of electricity in Portugal, taking 725.1 GWh/year from the grid in 2019, just over 1.4% of the national electricity consumption. With investments totalling around 370 million euros, this program forecasts to neutralise the equivalent of 746 GWh – which corresponds to the estimated energy consumption envisioned for 2030 – thus achieving energy neutrality at a rate of 105.3% and equivalent carbon neutrality.

The program also involves achieving neutrality in terms of fuel consumption – 765 GWh – with energy neutrality obtained at a level of 102.4%.

In environmental terms, this highlights how the Neutrality Program will, in 2030, eliminate approximately 205 tons/year of CO2 emissions whilst returning savings to Portugal totalling around 5.3 million euros per year (at current values).

The ZERO Program involves every AdP Group company, including ongoing international activities, integrating their own increases in production of 100% renewable energy and making an 80% contribution towards energy neutrality.

This program emerges in the wake of the EPAL 0% project that aims to achieve energy and emissions neutrality by 2025, through initiatives such construction of hydro-electric power plants within its water distribution system as well as wind and solar power. The company has already adjudicated construction of the first hydro-electric power plant to reutilise energy generated by water treated at the Asseiceira wastewater treatment plant, making this the largest such facility in the country and 100% energy self-sustainable.

Let me explain in more detail what I had the honour to present in Portugal to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Inês dos Santos Costa, and the Assistant Secretary of State and for Energy, João Galamba. Which, showcases the commitment of our country towards the climate change global effort.


100% renewable energy

The ZERO Program foresees production of around 708 GWh/year by using internal resources available at group company installations, specifically sourced from biogas, wind, hydro and solar power, floating solar plants and including:

  • As regards biogas, growth forecast of 48.3 GWh/year (+163.2% compared with 2019);
  • Introduction of wind power production with the installation of 48 wind turbines with an estimated production capacity of 115.9 GWh/year;
  • Boosting hydro-electric output, to be achieved through the installation of 38 hydropower plants with a total capacity of 6.9 MW and with estimated production attaining 45 GWh/year (compared with the 90.5 MWh produced in 2018);
  • In the case of solar power, plans for exponential growth in production are foreseen, from 4.1 GWh to around 478 GWh, with the installation of solar plants able to produce an average of 353 GWh/year in their first year of operation as well as installation of floating solar panels on 25 reservoirs with an average output of 125 GWh/year. Solar energy production accounts for 70% of the total increase in energy production planned for in the ZERO Program.


Energy efficiency measures

The group objective is to cut 35.6 GWh/year from the energy required for water supply (treatment and pumping of water for household consumption), equivalent to a reduction of 8.5% on current consumption. As in what regards wastewater treatment, estimated savings are in excess of 13%, with a reduction forecast of 37.8 GWh/year. The estimated investment required by these energy efficiency actions, due for completion by the end of 2024, is approximately 39.6 million euros.

Water supply accounts for around 60% of the total AdP Group energy consumption – 410.3 GWh/year in 2018 – with wastewater sanitation treatment representing the remaining 40% of consumption, with a total of around 284.0 GWh/year in 2018.

The ZERO Program also encompasses actions targeting water losses and excessive sewer inflows from within municipal system management entities, whether in isolation or in conjunction with AdP Group companies.

Taking into account these actions under the auspices of municipal system management entities, the total ZERO Program investment amounts to 480 million euros, with equivalent neutrality – between reduction in energy consumption, compensation for fuel consumption and internal production of 100% renewable energy – of 117%.

The AdP – Águas de Portugal Group is the leading Portuguese business group with activities focusing on water supply and wastewater treatment services. With entirely public capital, the group also represents the largest Portuguese environment sector business with its mission incorporating the provision of essential water supply and wastewater treatment services with positive and highly relevant impacts on public health, environmental quality, territorial cohesion as well as economic and social development.

On mainland Portugal, through 13 regionally based companies, we provide such services to around 80% of the population, spanning every phase of the urban water cycle, from extraction, treatment, transport and distribution of water for public consumption to the collection, transport, treatment and discharge of wastewaters, both urban and industrial, including their recycling and re-use and as well as producing energy through re-use of internal resources.

Internationally, in association with local partners and Portuguese companies, the group acts as a benchmark reference for the water and wastewater sectors and is recognised as a leading strategic partner for the implementation of projects designed to improve the provision of these services as well as within the scope of implementing development cooperation activities in accordance with the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.



Watch press conference (in Portuguese)

José Manuel Sardinha

President EPAL
“We are a decade away from meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Agenda and three decades from fulfilling the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Vision for 2050. The entire international community must uni... Read full biography