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1,000 MW of Wind Power Planned for Uruguay by 2015


It was just in September that Uruguay estimated it could add 800 MW of wind power by 2015. Recently, it upped that estimate to 1,000 MW. Over half that total may be under construction before the end of 2012.

On some windy summer nights, Uruguay gets about 80 to 90 percent of its energy from wind power. Energy Secretary Ramón Méndez Galain said: “Because we’re a small country, we can do things.”

Wind power may already be the cheapest source of energy in Uruguay, a nation with just 3.3 million people. Reportedly, the price of wind power had dropped to $63.50 per MWh by August 2011, down from $85/MWh just seven months before that.

In 2011, the small nation had 43 MW of wind power in operation, with plans to construct a number of 50-MW plants. (A plan to build a plant of 180 to 200 MW with Brazil fell apart in the same year, though.) Three hundred and forty-two megawatts from six new projects will become operational through 2014, with the remainder of the 1,000 MW coming in 2015. There has been a steady and fairly quick progression to these new large goals.

For example, in 2007, UNDP and the Global Environment Facility collaborated with the National Energy Directorate to fund the Caracoles Wind Farm, a large-scale, newest-generation wind farm. This is a 20-MW plant providing power to offset reliance on hydroelectric and oil-based power plants. One thing that sparked an interest in wind power then was a long-lasting drought, which reduced the volume of water available to hydroelectric generators.

Uruguay’s hydroelectric capacity is about 1,500 MW, which will offset periods of low or no wind for their wind power farms, when they are all operational.

Image Credit: Amateos, Public Domain

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