Energy Research Knowledge Centre


Research themes and prioritisation


The formulation of an effective and target-oriented public energy R&D strategy follows from the precondition of having a clear national energy policy.

In Portugal, policy coordination has been strengthened by the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) for 2007–2013, as there is no longer a specific Operational Programme (OP) focused on research policy.

Several energy policy goals involve the development and deployment of new technologies to meet, within the NSRF, the country’s ambitious target for low-carbon technologies.

The main research themes are renewable energy, energy efficiency, and CCS.

Organisation of research


Under the government which took office in mid-2011, responsibility for R&D planning has been assigned to the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) which was in charge also of energy policy.

In 2003, the energy and environmental policies have been shifted to the new Ministry of environment, Spatial Planning and Energy.

The key science policy implementation agency is the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT), which operates in practice as a national research council and is the main source of research funding. However, the FCT has limited autonomy in defining funding criteria and specific priorities, for which it defers to the MES.

Portuguese R&D institutions are active in almost all energy technologies, including nuclear fission and fusion. Public R&D institutions working on energy include relevant research laboratories such as the National Laboratory for Energy and Geology, the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST/ITN), the Associated Laboratory, the Institute of Plasmas and Nuclear Fusion (IPFN), and approximately 40 university research units.

The Agency for innovation (ADI), a joint venture between the MES and the Ministry for the Economy and Employment, is responsible for managing the measures aimed at promoting research consortia between universities and companies.

Figure 1: Organisational structure of public funding for energy research in Portugal.

Programmes and budgets


Budget allocation reflects policy priorities, mainly for renewable energy (wind, solar, bioenergy, biofuels and wave power), while energy efficiency traditionally focuses on industrial technologies. More recently, attention has been given to energy-efficient technologies for transport, CCS and hydrogen production.

The NSRF 2007–2013 includes regional programmes which recognise that research activities and organisations are an important part of regional development strategies. However, part of the allocation of funds to those activities and organisations is still left to national programmes.

Budgets overview

Portugal’s total energy R&D budget in 2011 was €2 096 million. Around 40 % of this was allocated to renewable energy and 30 % to energy efficiency. Solar energy alone received 34 % of total energy R&D expenditure in 2011.

Table 1: The main energy research programmes in Portugal.

* Figures for the nationally funded part of the budget that is specific to energy research are not available.

Programmes and initiatives

Energy Innovation and Technology – Investment and Expenditure Development Programme of the Central Administration

Tecnologia e Inovação Energética – Programa de Investimentos e Despesas de Desenvolvimento da Administração Central (PIDDAC)

PIDDAC is a multi-annual investment programme (originally 2007–2011, but still ongoing) divided into several themes, including innovation and technology (PIDDAC P2 – Scientific Investigation, Technology and Innovation). Within this theme, energy R&D focuses on energy efficiency; national energy resources; energy and environment; and new energy systems. The 2009–2011 budget for PIDDAC P2 is €2 100 million. The energy component of PIDDAC P2 (Energy Innovation and Technology) has a budget of about €2.5 million, and projects related to energy can also be found in several other sections of the programme.

Operational Programme for Science and Innovation

Programa Operacional Ciência e Inovação (POCI)

Funded from ERDF and national sources as a revision of POCTI, this programme supports R&D projects and technological development. It uses consortium contracts to engage businesses and SCTN (National Science and Technology System) organisations with the aim of developing new products, processes and services.

POCI 2010 has seven priority areas, of which the two most closely related to energy are: Developing the Scientific, Technology and Innovation System (Area II) and Science and Innovation for Technological Development (Area V). The specific national energy research related budget for this programme is not available.

National govermment departments


Ministry of Education and Science (MES)

Ministério da Educação e Ciência

The Ministry of Education and Science defines, coordinates, implements and evaluates policies on education, from primary to higher education, and science. It is also responsible for qualifications and training.

Ministry of Economy and Employment (MDA)

Ministério da Economia e do Emprego

The goal of the Ministry of Economy and Employment is to ensure the creation of sustainable employment through enterprises that produce goods or services which can be traded in the global marketplace. In particular, the Ministry manages policies for sustainable employment, competition and innovation.

Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy (MAE)

Ministério do Ambiente, Ordenamento do Território  e Energia

The Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy coordinates and executes environmental policies, in favor of the environment and quality of life and the valorization of energy and land resources.

Directorate-General of Budget (DGO) – Ministry of Finance and Public Administration

Direção-Geral do Orçamento (DGO) – Ministério das Finanças e da Administração Pública (MFAP)

The Directorate-General of Budget (DGO) plays an essential role in public finance. It is responsible for overseeing the preparation, management and implementation of the state budget and for controlling public accounts.

National research programme management agencies


Agency for Innovation

Agência de Inovação (ADI)

ADI is a state-owned agency funded by the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Economy and Employment. ADI supports applied research projects through various incentive schemes. Over the last few years ADI has managed programmes designed to support technological innovation.

Funding organisations at national level


Science and Technology Foundation

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)

The mission of the FCT includes exploiting opportunities in all areas of science and technology with a view to reaching internationally competitive levels, and diffusing new knowledge to improve education, public health, environmental sustainability and quality of life. FCT provides support through a variety of different means, including open calls for the financing of research organisations, research teams or individual researchers on the basis of merit, and cooperative agreements and other partnerships with universities and other public and private organisations.