Fernando Schaich: “It all started with the need that Uruguay had in the past decade to transform a very oil depending matrix towards any domestic energy source.”

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The Beam interview series, edition 31: Fernando Schaich

CleanTechnica keeps on publishing some of The Beam interviews and opinion pieces twice a week. The Beam magazine takes a modern perspective on the energy transition, interviewing inspirational people from around the world that shape our sustainable energy future.

This week Anne-Sophie Garrigou, journalist at The Beam, interviewed Fernando Schaich, a 49-year old chemical engineer who has more than 20 years of experience in the energy market with a special dedication to energy efficiency and renewable energies. Fernando is a founding partner of SEG Ingeniería, a Uruguayan company with presence in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Mexico and Uruguay and was until end of 2016, president of the Uruguayan Association of Wind Energy.

Hello Fernando Schaich. Uruguay is at the forefront of the world´s energy production based on renewable sources With a 56% share of renewable energies in the primary matrix (2014), it is well above the world average (9.3%). Renewable energy powers 95% of electricity in Uruguay. The country relies on a mixture of energy resources including wind turbines, solar power, hydropower, and biomass.

How do you explain this? Why is Uruguay so interesting for renewable energy today?

There are four main reasons. First of all is the good to excellent solar and wind resource. Second of all is the political and legal security with clear long term rules. Combined with a dynamic business market (although Uruguay’s market is small) and a simple regulatory framework to install, construct, generate and deliver the energy, it’s a perfect equation.

Why did people decide to invest in Uruguay instead of anywhere else?

Track record is basic for such kind of long term investments. Uruguay is undoubtedly one of most investment-secure countries in Latin America since decades. Uruguay also defined a very clear, transparent and simple long term energy policy that was underlying by all the political parties. It means, it will be respected independent to the political party that governs.

What motivated Uruguay’s energy change? And how would do you say that the government in Uruguay support the development of renewable energy?

It all started with the need that Uruguay had in the past decade to transform a very oil depending matrix towards any domestic energy source. Uruguay has no oil at all and the only domestic source Uruguay had, was hydropower. But hydropower was almost at the limit (Uruguay is a very flat country and we obey have two big main rivers: Rio Negro and Rio Uruguay). Wind sounded to be the solution. And it is!!

What are the challenges that remain in Uruguay in term of renewable energy?

The short term challenges are to finish the solar and wind parks that are today under construction. And after that there is a big challenge in keeping the availability of all those as high as possible. This is only achievable with a very accurate and dedicated operating management. Many of the owners still don’t realized the need to hire a professional team (own or third party even better) to run an optimal asset and operational management.

Read the entire interview here.

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The Beam

The Beam Magazine is an independent climate solutions and climate action magazine. It tells about the most exciting solutions, makes a concrete contribution to eliminating climate injustices and preserving this planet for all of us in its diversity and beauty. Our cross-country team of editors works with a network of 150 local journalists in 50 countries talking to change makers and communities. THE BEAM is published in Berlin and distributed in nearly 1,000 publicly accessible locations, to companies, organizations and individuals in 40 countries across the world powered by FairPlanet.

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