Berlenga Project


The Berlenga Project was present on the C3P and NASA Technical Workshop, "Enhancing Mission through Proactive Environmental Risk Mitigation" located at the University of California San Diego, November 18-20, 2008.

Dr. Sérgio Leandro, Environmental Advisor - Township of Peniche, made a presentation about the Berlenga Project with the title: How Important is it to be a Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO? The Case of Berlengas Islands (Peniche – Portugal). 

Berlenga Island Project: Background and Overview

Berlenga Island is a unique Nature Reserve of Portugal. It is, therefore, imperative that Berlenga be preserved and passed on to our children in the same conditions that we received it from our ancestors. However, beyond all the damage that we inflict upon Berlenga’s delicate eco-system, it is shocking and entirely unacceptable that both the European Commission and the UN Environmental Program do not recognize Berlenga’s right to fly Europe’s Blue Flag.



                          Berlenga Island

Raw sewage and electric power, today produced by diesel engines, as well as water supply limitations and fuel spill risks are examples of the problems that the Reserve must overcome. The “winter isolation” period, during which merely 2 lighthouse keepers remain on the Island, is a sharp contrast to the “summer invasion” situation, when more than 1000 residents and visitors are on the Island, daily. The associated demand with infrastructure and logistics issues has led to situations that our efforts have sought to correct. Failure to establish appropriate and timely corrective actions will most likely lead to an intolerable disruption of the Berlenga Island, as a living eco-system. Implementing a recommended well-structured holistic approach will both alleviate current problems and serve to establish an exemplary “Low Carbon Island” site.

For this purpose, there is an ongoing project called Berlenga, A Laboratory for Sustainability, developed under the auspices of the Secretary of State for Environment and coordinated by the Center for Pollution Prevention, C3P, with the support of NASA and ITB, Inc. from the USA.

The C3P-led team will work with other stakeholders, such as the Institute for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity, ICNB, the Municipality of Peniche, the Navy Lighthouse Authority, the utility companies Águas de Portugal, AdP, and Energias de Portugal, EDP, EFACEC, GALP Energia, Portugal Telecom, PT, INESC Porto, INETI, ISQ, Rui Pena, Arnaut e Associados, among others. The Association formed by these entities is working with Berlenga’s residents and businesses to define the most critical requirements for the Island Project, in order to maximize the usage of an integrated set of implemented solutions. Potential solutions will be identified and evaluated for their suitability. The identification of requirements, potential solutions and conceptual design for the Island is being defined by consensus among the core team members, and in consultation and approval by the Portuguese Ministry of the Environment. While technical feasibility and environmental benefit will be key drivers for the conceptual design, other factors such as refocusing Island visitation to cultural and educational aspects, are also goals that are on the drawing board. Indeed, it is envisioned that Berlenga could be a “showcase” of long term sustainability and biodiversity, not only for Portugal but for island and isolated or remote communities in general, particularly in developing countries.

As mentioned before, the conceptual design for the Berlenga Island will address all community needs (environmental, energy, potable and service water, waste treatment, transportation), for each Island zone (fishermen’s village and restaurant, fortress, campground, lighthouse). In addition, the overall design will offer solutions covering the gamut from pollution prevention to resource conservation to recycling, incorporating both low-tech and high-tech solutions. The latest commercially available renewable energy technologies will be incorporated in the design to provide, store and supply energy in a sustainable fashion, significantly reducing current demand for diesel fuel. Energy sources may include various combinations of solar, wind, and eventually biomass and wave power. All possible combinations of locations for the renewable energy systems—on Island, in the ocean, and on the nearby mainland—will be evaluated to minimize disruption of the Island’s landscape and soundscape. Maximum utilization of existing infrastructures will be considered. The design will be robust, to allow for the possible inclusion of newer, more advanced technologies in the future.

This Project should be concluded within 18 months. Therefore, priority will be given to leading edge solutions that have already been tested, and that have a minimum impact on the natural resources of the Island, including its soil and the surrounding sea, as well as both their flora and fauna. This does not mean that the Project isn’t open to research projects that can complement or improve the development of future, more modern solutions, as long as they do not interfere with the established calendar. This calendar is the result of an urgent need to apply immediate solutions for the Island’s more pressing problems. Moreover, it is restricted to timings that are not easy to overcome, such as the impossibility of working on-site during the months of November through May.

On the other hand, the Project’s budget, at 2 to 3 million Euros, is strongly grounded in the uninterested participation of the associated partners in terms of technology, labor, and supply of goods and services. Obviously, this is not enough to cover all expenses, and that is why we are counting on financial contributions from any public or private person or entity that would like to become associated with this Project through sponsorship. Besides, the Project is conceived to work in modules, where priority is given to the solutions to basic problems which are: renewable energy production and storage, production and storage of drinking water, and waste management – compacting solid waste and wastewater treatment.

In the significant group of Partners that has, to date, gathered for this Project, many required areas of scientific and technological expertise are already well represented; and some businesses have clearly and unequivocally reflected their desire to voluntarily integrate environmental concerns into their social goals, through financial donations to this Project.

For the success of this Project we trust in the conscious attitude of Social Solidarity and Responsibility, both collectively and individually, on behalf of these Partners and all others yet to come.

Berlenga Video


Project Information (presented at C3P/NASA Workshop 2007)

Dr. António José Correia, Mayor of Peniche
General P.C. Branco, C3P President
Dr. António Teixeira, ICNB
Eng. Sandra Estanislau, ISQ
Dr. Teresa Esteves, INETI
Eng. João Maciel, EDP
7. Solid Waste Management
Eng. Nuno Carvalho, C.M. Peniche
8. Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment and Disposal in Berlenga
Eng. Carlos Póvoa, AdP
9. Technical Issues of Micro-Generation Islanding Operation
Eng. André Madureira, INESC Porto





Berlenga Project Achievements

Business Plan

July, 2008


The Business Plan for 2008/2009 of the Association Berlenga – Laboratório de Sustentabilidade was approved during the General Meeting held on July 15, 2008.




1. Evaluation of Natural Resources


2. Energy System – Specification, evaluation, consulting, selection, acquisition and installation of technical solutions.


  • Energy Pilot System – installation of an energy pilot system (photovoltaic energy), in December 2007.

  • Energy Global System – electrical energy generation and storage system using renewable sources (solar and wind). It is predicted the system installation in 2 phases. The first phase shall be implemented in 2008 and will fulfil the major energy needs of the island. The second phase shall be implemented in 2009 and will cover the remaining energy needs.

  • Solar Thermal Energy System – is planned the installation, by the end of the year 2008, of a solar thermal energy system for heating sanitary waters.


3. Water and Sewage System

The following systems are planned to be installed on the island in different phases (2008-2010):

  • System for production of drinkable water – installation of desalination equipment.

  • Wastewater treatment system – installation of a screening process (primary treatment).

  • Study on seawater contamination in Berlenga Island.


4. Solid Waste Management System

It's planned the implementation of an urban solid waste management system – compactor system to be installed by the end of 2008.



Environmental Incidences Study
April, 2008


The elaboration of the Environmental Incidences Study, conducted by ISQ – Instituto de Soldadura e Qualidade, regarding the Project “Berlenga – Laboratório de Sustentabilidade”, started in January 2008, and was submitted to the competent authorities for evaluation on April 14, 2008.

The objective of the general methodology applied for the development of the Environmental Incidences Study was to fulfil the legal requirements.


The site ecological sensibility, as well as other urban environmental impacts, originated the need to conduct a more detailed analysis of the major problems / incidences of the project Berlenga – Laboratório de Sustentabilidade, in order to avoid potential conflicts and to contribute with a good implementation of the project and the minimization of impacts.


The study results from a deep examination of the several intervention projects, and consists of a descriptor analysis conducted by competent entities. The study mentions the aspects considered important and that contributes for the project planning and management.

The work basis was the project success and its contribution for the future of the island. Considering the study objectives, several aspects were mentioned, namely the project negative impacts, situations to avoid and minimize, recommendations and measures.


Simultaneously with the elaboration of the Environmental Incidences Study, the Association has initiated the preparation and launch of calls for the acquisition and installation of equipments for the several intervention areas of the project, namely: energy generation and storage, water production, sewage treatment and solid waste treatment.



Constitution of the Association Berlenga – Laboratório de Sustentabilidade
April 21, 2008

In order to move forward with the objectives of the Project “Berlenga – Laboratório de Sustentabilidade”, a non profit Association, named “Berlenga – Laboratório de Sustentabilidade”, was formally constituted on April 21, 2008.


The Association Partners are: Municipality of Peniche, C3P-Center For Pollution Prevention (representing NASA and ITB), Institute for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (ICNB), EDP – Energies of Portugal, ISQ – Welding and Quality Institute, AdP – Waters of Portugal, EFACEC Engineering, INETI, INESC Porto, GALP Energy, Portuguese Navy and Sociedade de Advogados Rui Pena, Arnaut & Associados (Lawyer Firm).



Installation of solar photovoltaic panels at Berlenga Island Energy Pilot System
December, 2007

Video - Media Coverage of the field work - RTP

December 7, 2007, was a historical day for the Berlenga Island. This fact was due to the beginning of the installation of the first solar photovoltaic panels to produce electrical energy at the island.

This process was a contribute of several project Partners, namely EDP – Energias de Portugal, Portuguese Navy – Lighthouse Authority, EFACEC and Municipality of Peniche, and integrated the installation of electric energy production equipments, as well as energy storage technologies.

The pilot system is composed of 12 photovoltaic panels with a total 1.84 kW installed power and by 24 batteries, which will permit the storage of 14.6 kWh.


Last updated: 10/05/2010