SEATTLE, Washington — Positioned on the northern bank of the Rio de la Plata, Uruguay is a nation that stands out greatly among its neighbors. Not only does the country have an excellent standard of living, but in many ways, it is a leader when it comes to renewable energy. Indeed, Uruguay has invested roughly $7 billion into its green resources since 2010. Now, Uruguayans are seeing the fruit of their country’s labor. Here is everything to know about renewable energy in Uruguay.
The History of Renewable Energy in Uruguay
The root of Uruguay’s push for renewable energy lies in the country’s history. In particular, a major impetus for the switch came after Uruguay’s bout with a severe, decade-long drought beginning in 1997. This had a dire impact on the country’s energy production. With no other option at the time, the Uruguayan government found itself forced to begin importing oil from neighboring Argentina to meet its energy needs. However, this dependence would quickly balloon far behind expectations.
In 2006 alone, Uruguay would end up importing nearly 75% of its energy needs. This left a bad taste in the mouth of the country’s leaders, who quickly realized the peril of finding oneself at the mercy of foreign nations. Thus, the Uruguayan government began to invest heavily in homegrown renewable energy sources.
Breaking Down Renewable Energy in Uruguay
Thanks to its location in South America’s southern cone, Uruguay has a natural landscape particularly well-suited to renewable energy. The country’s long daylight hours, for example, make it an excellent place for harvesting solar energy, while its ample coastline lends itself well to generating hydroelectric power.
The latter is particularly key. While Uruguay also makes use of both wind and solar energy, roughly 60% of the country’s renewable energy comes from hydroelectricity. Incredibly, this output is generated by just four hydroelectric dams in total. For comparison, more than 4,000 windmills have been built in the country since 2007.
The Benefits of Renewable Energy in Uruguay
Thanks to the government’s efforts in promoting renewable energy, Uruguay is reaping incredible benefits. Already, the resulting boom in power generated by renewable resources has been so substantial that renewable energy now provides the country with nearly 97% of its electricity. Once dependent on other nations for oil, Uruguay has even begun exporting its excess energy abroad.
The shift to renewable energy has also helped in the domestic economy. Previously in dire straits, Uruguay’s energy sector has seen an increase in investment to the tune of $7 billion. As a result, it is now responsible for a little over 15% of the country’s GDP. This has brought badly-needed jobs and economic stability to many Uruguayans.
The benefits of investing in renewable energy are thus clear, at least in the case of Uruguay. Not only have the country’s citizens benefited economically, but the introduction of renewable resources has solved a once dire problem. As other countries continue to make the transition to clean energy, it is Uruguay’s lead they will be following.
– Jacob E. Lee