July 17 (UPI) -- Renewable energy gives Portugal, which imports all of its oil and gas, a way to gain a degree of independence over its economy, a European energy official said.
Vice President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic met Monday with Portuguese leaders to discuss clean energy and national energy plans. Largely isolated from European energy networks, the EU leader said renewable energy was helping Portugal gain economic leverage.
"I congratulate Portugal for becoming one of the EU's frontrunners in its usage of renewable energy," he said in a statement. "This is also helping it to decrease its dependency on energy imports from abroad."
In April, German energy company E.ON said it made an investment commitment with Ampyx Power to test so-called airborne wind energy technology. The technology for wind energy would use fixed-wing or sails for power in a way that would make deployment easier for deep waters, like those off the coast of Portugal.
Two years ago, half of all energy consumption in Portugal was met from renewable energy, mostly wind and hydroelectric power, and the country last year marked a milestone when its entire electricity demand was met by renewable energy resources for nearly a week straight.
EDF, the largest gas company in Portugal, signed up two years ago to eventually secure liquefied natural gas from the United States. The EU, meanwhile, is funding projects that would build deeper gas connections between Portugal and neighboring Spain.
Portugal is on pace to meet its target of having renewable energy represent 31 percent of its total energy share by 2020. Currently, the country relies entirely on imports from mostly African and Middle East suppliers for its oil and natural gas.