Home Institution

University of Michigan

Publication Date

Spring 2023

Program Name

Portugal: Sustainability and Environmental Justice


The green energy transition is moving ahead in EU countries at very different paces, and there are some key challenges that all regions currently face in trying to phase fossil fuels out of their energy mixes. One of these challenges is that most regions simply cannot harness enough renewable energy sources and simultaneously have the storage technology for creating a baseload power source as reliable as oil, coal and natural gas. That is, unless you sit in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on the boundary of three tectonic plates, with a continuous and reliable renewable energy source beneath your feet. São Miguel, the biggest of Portugal’s Azores Islands, has an abundance of geothermal activity and is currently harnessing this natural heat to provide around 40% of the island’s electricity. Although geothermal energy has been extensively studied and utilized in volcanic regions, there is still a lack of research on the attitudes and perceptions of the communities surrounding these areas towards this energy source. It is important to address potential stigmas surrounding geothermal energy and to bridge the gap between the scientific community and the public to ensure the effective implementation of this renewable energy source. This paper uses survey-based research to assess energy literacy and geothermal energy perspectives in São Miguel, and explore potential relationships between them. The study aims to identify community priorities and concerns regarding energy production in São Miguel, providing insights that can guide community outreach and education efforts focused on improving energy literacy and promoting sustainable energy practices.


Earth Sciences | Energy Policy | Environmental Engineering | Geotechnical Engineering | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Sustainability


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