Frontline Online: Who's planning to become the planet's greenest country?

| 13th January 2013

Uruguay has its sights set on becoming the world's greenest nation

In her new weekly column, the Ecologist's Lorna Howarth reports on the stories that show standing up for what we believe in can and does make a real difference.
Uruguay plans to produce 90% of its energy from renewables

Uruguay plans to produce 90% of its energy from renewables

 Whilst the UK government seems to blow hot then cold on wind power - with the Planning Minister Nick Boles now stating that wind farms should be situated at least 1.4 miles away from residential properties – a stipulation that is not so easy on such an overcrowded island and which is another reason for siting them offshore it seems the Uruguayan government may now become the world’s leading wind energy producer, by 2015, as part of a wider scheme to produce 90% of its energy from renewables. (In contrast, the UK produces just 11% of its energy from renewables.)

Energy from wind power will provide 30% of Uruguay’s total energy mix (setting it ahead of Denmark which produces 26% of it’s energy from wind). Hydropower will contribute 45% and biomass, 15%.

Uruguay is a relatively small country with a small population of 3.4 million, making its aim to become the planet’s ‘greenest’ country more easily achievable, nonetheless, these are laudable aims. The country currently only produces 50MW of energy from wind, so to increase this to 1000MW will require the installation of 500 turbines by 2015.

Uruguay expects that $1.8 billion will be invested in wind farms from international companies to achieve this level of growth. Energy expert John Byrne from the University of Delaware believes a lot of equipment will have to be bought from Asian and European markets to achieve this goal, however, Ramon Mendez, Uruguay’s Energy Minister says, “We have no doubts. This isn’t just a decision taken in an office somewhere, but rather something we’ve been working on for a number of years,” 

Like the rest of South America, Uruguay has significant hydroelectric generation capacity, however in the dry season, as river flows reduce, the government has had to buy-in energy from Argentina. The move towards wind power will bridge this climatic gap and drive towards energy independence for Uruguay.


Lorna Howarth is a writer and environmentalist. She is a contributing editor to Resurgence & Ecologist magazine and the founder of a small independent publishing ageny, The Writer Factor Contact:

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