The drought that is affecting Brazil so much is also undermining Uruguay and its large dependance on hydro energy ( 74 percent of local electricity ). The current alternative to hydro is oil. So the country will invest $2.6 billion ( 2.3 billion euros ) in wind energy in the next couple of years.
This relatively small country – two fifths of France – has a population of 3.3 million and is located on the Atlantic Ocean coasts, between Argentina and Brazil. It is considered as a “wind paradise” by Renewable Energy World.
Here is what they had to write about their plan of becoming the regional leader on wind energy :
Uruguay hopes to generate as much as 38 percent of its power from wind by the end of 2017, up from about 13 percent now, cementing Uruguay’s position as South America’s top wind-energy user, according to Gonzalo Casaravilla, chairman of the state- owned electric utility UTE.
That would put Uruguay in the same league as Denmark, the global wind energy trailblazer that got 43 percent of its power from wind last year. The country of 3.3 million is embracing wind because it offers low operating costs and as a hedge against drought, which reduces power from hydroelectric dams and in the past has forced it to fall back on fossil fuels.
(…) In a wet year like 2014, about 74 percent of Uruguay’s electricity came from hydropower. Now, with a drought affecting parts of the country, wind is coming to the rescue as hydropower’s share slips below 70 percent.
With oil at about $60 a barrel, Usinas & Transmisiones Electricas, as the utility is formally known, would have paid an additional $200 million for fuel this year without the recently added renewable energy projects, Energy Minister Carolina Cosse told reporters May 4.
Developers have invested $1.4 billion on wind power to date, and more projects are on the way. That will let Uruguay consistently generate at least 90 percent of its power from renewables by the end of 2016, Casaravilla said.
On a global scale, with the looming global drought hitting so many countries today, one can see that wind – and solar – as alternatives to hydro is a good idea.