Not having major oil and gas reserves, Uruguay long depended on the import of fossil fuels to cover its energy needs. By 2008, however, economic growth, an increasing middle class and rising oil prices sparked a major shift in Uruguay’s national energy policy. A multi-party consensus was reached and a new national energy policy was drafted in favor of renewable energy. By 2015, renewable energy sources provided 95% of Uruguay’s electricity with inflation-adjusted prices lower than a decade before, a success story that made Uruguay a star of the Paris climate summit. Researchers from around the world have studied the Uruguayan case, which demonstrates that sustainable energy policy can be good business and does not necessarily require government subsidies, or as the director for Uruguay’s climate policy stated, “What we have learned is that renewables is just a financial business”. International focus has been on the broad consensus that led to the decision to invest in renewable energy, on the regulatory framework that was created to attract foreign investment and guarantee stable operating conditions, and on the strong public-sector energy players that made the private-public partnership possible. Uruguay’s natural conditions such as wind, solar radiation and abundant biomass from agriculture and forestry have also been subject of study. Smart decisions, though, have been more important, such as reversing the relationship between eolic energy and hydropower, using hydropower as a backup in case of lack of wind.
- Leveraging foreign direct investment in national energy
- Implementing a national energy policy: A Uruguayan case study
- Understanding the energy market in Uruguay today: Between political constraints and market mechanisms