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Uruguay to Become World Leader in Wind Energy by 2016

A wind turbine

Uruguay is becoming a world leader in wind energy.

Move over Denmark, there will be a new leader in wind energy.

According to a report by SEG Ingenieria, Uruguay would be able to surpass Denmark by 2016 with the amount of wind energy generated in proportion to the total consumption of electricity. Denmark currently gets 28 percent of its electricity from wind energy and Uruguay would be able to get 33 percent of its electricity from wind energy by 2016.

SEG Ingenieria is an Uruguayan energy consulting business primarily interested in achieving “a sustainable and renewable energy-efficient environment, optimizing resources and making things happen.”

“As leader in the field of energy efficiency and cost optimization in the region since 1996, our company’s main purpose is to analyze, plan, consult and implement systems aimed at a better use of resources,” their “About Us” section states.

It should be noted, as mentioned in the report, Uruguay did not believe it could have achieved such a position, let alone surpass other developed countries.

“Leading the world ranking in wind energy seemed like a utopia several years ago, but actually, this possibility seems like near reality. Is it perhaps possible for a small and developing country like Uruguay achieve and position itself as a world leader in wind energy? The answer is yes,” the report stated.

Renewable energy powered 84 percent of the country’s energy last year, according to government data. Ramón Méndez, an energy official, hoped it would go as far as 90 percent for 2015 as 84 percent was “innovative on a world level.”

Two years ago, former Energy Minister Roberto Kreimerman announced the country would invest $5 billion in, according to LaRed21, “amounts that never before seen in the generation, transmission and distribution of energy” in 2014. The country even offered tax breaks for companies to join in this venture.

This is an effort that the French-based organization Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century noted in their report on how developing countries were investing a great share of their GDP in renewable energy in a recent report.

Uruguay’s President José Mujica mentioned in a radio address the growing potential of wind energy in the country and said, by 2015, the country will have the “highest percentage of wind energy in its energy included in its energy matrix.” He also mentioned the declining cost of electricity as the country invested $7 billion in its energy matrix.

Companies are well aware of this as Bloomberg News reported on Eurus Energy purchased 44 percent of stocks last year in a new farm that was recently finished in Lavalleja, Uruguay.

Efforts by Uruguay to investment in alternative energy is not limited to wind energy as it recently agreed to buy electricity from a solar farm by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures.

This is newsworthy in Latin America as other countries—such as Ecuador and Venezuela—have been dependent on oil for their profits. In addition, petroleum was discovered in Paraguay and the Mexican government pushed forth privatization of its oil and gas reserves. Uruguay would rely on natural gas but it would be an last resort option if they cannot amass enough energy from wind turbines.

It should be noted, however, the amount of megawatts will be 1,200 by “early 2016” as the report states.

“Uruguay will certainly will function with 1,200 MW in the beginning of 2016, if considering all the parks already awarded to private companies or constructed by [Uruguayan state energy agency] UTE (National Administration of Electric Plant and Transmissions), and are already in their distinct stages of design, construction and commission,” the report said.

Compared to other countries, this is a small figure. DeSmogBlog journalist Chris Rose reported on the MWs of other developed countries with China at “91,412 MW, the U.S. at 61,091 MW, Germany at 34,250 MW, Spain at 22,959 MW, India at 20,150 MW and the U.K. 10,531 MW.” Still, as Rose puts it, “there is more to wind power than statistics.”

Méndez stated to La República the latest report provided significant news for the country in terms of its energy policy. Even on windy days, the country could have 100 percent of its electricity powered solely through wind energy.

“In the next two months, a third of the energy consumed by the country is exclusively through wind power,” he said.

Even if dwarfed by other developed countries, it certainly provides good news for environmentalists throughout the world.

Photo by Patrick Finnegan released under a Creative Commons license.

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Brandon Jordan

Brandon Jordan

Brandon Jordan is a freelance journalist in Queens, NY and written for publications such as The Nation, In These Times, Truthout and more.