For those wanting to understand what a clean electricity footprint looks like, go to Uruguay.
In less than 10 years, the country has shrunk its carbon footprint while lowering electricity costs, without calling on the government for renewable energy subsidies. In fact, this country now obtains nearly 95% of its electricity from clean energy.
Receiving 60% of its energy from hydropower, the remainder of this country energy portfolio has shifted from fossil fuel domination to a renewable energy, including mostly wind, but some solar and biomass.
In a recent report from The Guardian, we learn that in less than a decade, Uruguay has slashed its carbon footprint without government subsidies or higher consumer costs, states the country’s head of climate change policy, Ramón Méndez.
Not only have electricity prices dropped, Uruguayan energy professionals add that there are fewer power cuts, because a diverse energy mix means greater resilience to droughts.
Uruguay’s electricity mix is as follows:
- Thermal power
- Wind power
- Diesel generators
- Developing solar & biomass
With a population of 3.4 million, this country has been cheered for efforts to ‘decarbonize’ its economy. The list of those applauding includes the World Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Additionally, the WWF named Uruguay among its “Green Energy Leaders,” proclaiming: “The country is defining global trends in renewable energy investment.”
“What we’ve learned is that renewables is just a financial business,” Méndez said. “The construction and maintenance costs are low, so as long as you give investors a secure environment, it is very attractive.”
He said making this successful also involves clear decision-making, a supportive regulatory environment, and a strong partnership between the public and private sector.
Over the last five years, energy investments in Uruguay have grown to $7 billion, or 15% of the country’s annual GDP. This total is five times the average in Latin America. Importantly, the majority of this energy portfolio happens to be clean and renewable.
Image: Plaza in Montevideo, via Shutterstock
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