What Is Propelling Uruguay’s Fast-Growing Wind Sector?

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Inter-American Dialogues, Latin America Adviser

Uruguay’s energy ministry recently said that it expects seven wind farms with a total installed capacity of 340 megawatts to come online between April and June of this year, adding that by 2015, it expects wind sources to generate 30 percent of the country’s energy. What’s been driving the surge in wind projects in the country? 

“For some years now, Uruguay has been a small but powerful beacon for wind energy in
Latin America, showing what can be done with clear determination from the government and a strong and stable policy platform. The development of wind energy is part of Uruguay’s strategy to completely decarbonize its electricity sector, and with strong winds and a favorable policy framework, the up to 900 megawatts of wind energy currently
envisaged will supply Uruguay with reliable, very affordable and ‘inflationproof’ electricity for decades to come, insulating the economy from price shocks due to international fossil fuel price fluctuations. This first major tranche of projects completed this year will be ‘proof of concept,’ but I’m confident that the program will be a success. 

Along with its northern neighbor, the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, the country will benefit from the interconnection currently under construction between the two countries, and the penetration rate of wind and other renewables could be even higher in the future.
Uruguay is a small country, but I think the focus and determination of the government
to make maximum use of its indigenous renewable energy sources not only improves its balance of payments, strengthens the local economy and reduces air pollution and CO2
emissions, but it can also serve as an example to other governments in the
region, while at the same time increasing the country’s attractiveness as a destination
for foreign investment.”

Inter-American Dialogues, Latin America Adviser 28 April – 2 May 2014: Interview with Steve Sawyer, GWEC secretary general. Read the full story here