Energy profile: Uruguay

From Global Energy Monitor

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This page is part of Global Energy Monitor's Latin America Energy Portal.
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Fuel mix (fossil fuels vs renewables)

As of 2020, renewables accounted for 75.8% of Uruguay's electrical capacity, while non-renewable sources made up the remaining 24.2% (down from 29% in 2016).[1][2] In terms of actual power generation, 94% of Uruguay's electricity was generated from renewable sources in 2020; fossil fuels, which generated nearly 40% of Uruguay's electricity a decade ago, now account for a much smaller fraction.[1][3]

Greenhouse gas emissions targets

The Uruguayan government states they are focused on reducing emissions from the energy sector so as not to disrupt the agricultural systems which make up 76% of their emissions and 70% of national exports.[4] As of 2017, Uruguay had reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 88% compared to the 2009-2013 period average.[5] Uruguay aims to be carbon neutral by 2030.[6]

However, the government was still finalizing their national decarbonization strategy as of COP 26 in November 2021.[7]

Source: Worldometers

Government energy agencies & other key players

National energy ministry

MIEM (Ministerio de Industria, Energía y Minería) is responsible for formulation and promotion of industrial, energy and mining policies of Uruguay.

Permitting agencies

DINAMA (Dirección Nacional de Medio Ambiente) issues permits for any project that would be potentially disruptive to the environment.

Regulatory agencies

URSEA (Unidad Reguladora de Servicios de Energía y Agua) is responsible for the regulation of the electrical and water sector.

Electric utilities

UTE (Administración Nacional de Usinas y Trasmisiones Eléctricas) is responsible for the electrical grid of Uruguay including generation, transmission, distribution, commercialization, and technical assistance.

National oil company

ANCAP (Administración Nacional de Combustibles, Alcohol y Portland) is the state-owned company responsible for importing, refining and distributing petroleum products.

Energy sector employment data

As of November 2018, the renewable energy sector employed more than 11,000 workers in Uruguay.[8]

Electricity usage

Installed capacity

As of 2020, Uruguay had 4.9 GW of installed electrical generating capacity, with hydro (31.2%) and wind power (30.7%) accounting for the largest shares.[1]

Production

In 2020, Uruguay produced 13.5 TWh of electricity, with 40% coming from wind energy, 30% from hydro, 20% from biomass, 6% from fossil fuels, and 4% from solar.[1]

Demand

As of 2020, 100% of the population has access to electricity.[2] The UTE is spending $960 million between 2020-2025 for installing new electrical transmission infrastructure.[9]

Consumption

In 2016, Uruguay consumed 10.77 billion kWh of electricity.[2]

Coal in Uruguay

Uruguay does not produce, consume, or import coal.[10]

Oil & Natural Gas in Uruguay

Domestic Production

Uruguay does not produce crude oil and the county has no proven reserves.[2] Uruguay produced 42,220 barrels per day of refined petroleum products in 2015.[2] Uruguay does not produce natural gas and has no proven reserves.

Total energy supply by source 1990-2018, Source: IEA

Consumption

In 2016, Uruguay was consuming 53,000 barrels per day of refined petroleum products.[2] In 2017, Uruguay consumed 70.79 million cu m of natural gas.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many Uruguay imports all of the natural gas that it uses.[2] Uruguay primarily imports natural gas from Argentina via the Gasoducto Cruz del Sur.

Proposed new sources & projects

As of May 2021, there are no new projects proposed for oil and gas in Uruguay.

Transport

Uruguay generates nearly half of its electricity from wind and solar, more than any other country in Latin America and the Caribbean. Source: Visual Capitalist: Solar & Wind Power by Country

Gas is transported into Uruguay from Argentina via the Gasoducto Cruz del Sur.

Renewable Energy in Uruguay

© 2020 The World Bank, Source: Global Solar Atlas 2.0, Solar resource data: Solargis.

Uruguay's rate of electricity generation from renewables (98%) is among the highest in the world[11], with wind and hydropower leading the way.[1][12] Wind power growth has been especially strong in recent years, with wind-generated electricity surpassing hydro in 2020 for the first time in Uruguay's history.[13] In 2021, Uruguay generated 47% of its electricity from wind and solar combined[14] (up from 36% in 2019[5]), ranking second in the world behind Denmark.[13][14]

Since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, Uruguay has grown aggregate renewable energy by 93%.[15] In 2006, Uruguay became one of the first countries in Latin America to hold national energy auctions focused on the commissioning of renewable energy projects.[11] Following a period of stagnation around 2007, the renewable energy sector began to rise in prevalence again around 2010 with an emphasis on wind and hydroelectricity.[6] As Uruguay has embraced renewable energy, the country has moved away from a dependency on energy imports from neighboring Argentina. The diversification of the renewable energy sector has been very beneficial for Uruguay to lower costs of electricity and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[5][16]

Hydroelectric power accounted for roughly one third of electrical generation as of 2020 and the Uruguayan government has plans in place for modernization of its hydroelectric plants.[12] Droughts due to climate change are the largest threat to the Uruguayan energy matrix. As of November 2021, Uruguay was producing a surplus of wind energy and growth in the sector is slated to be part of the development of the green hydrogen industry.[12] Solar microgeneration projects are growing in popularity in Uruguay due to the Investment Promotion Law which incentivizes the use of solar technologies. Uruguay maintains an up to date government website on solar developments.[12] Biomass from wood, cattle, and edible oils is another important form of power generation in Uruguay, accounting for 15% in 2019.[12]

A pilot project for green hydrogen is underway in Uruguay.[17][18]

Uruguay: The clean energy transition

Iron & Steel in Uruguay

Uruguay primarily imports iron and steel from Brazil.[19] Following estimates by the British mining company, Zamin Ferrous, of 2.5 billion tons of iron reserves in Uruguay the country has undergone legal battles and environmental protests against the negative effects of open pit mining.[20] As of 2020, the Uruguayan court system continues to hear cases by iron ore mining investors seeking to tap into Uruguay's reserves.[21]

Environmental & social impacts of energy in Uruguay

The diversification of Uruguay's renewable energy sector has allowed the country to first use wind and solar energy to preserve water in the dams to better mitigate droughts.[5] Protests against iron ore mining are likely to be an important environmental and social issue for Uruguay throughout the 2020s.[22]

Source: UNFCC

Uruguay has a National Resettlement Plan in place for families in flood prone areas and it is intended to be a scalable plan as conditions change over the years with the effects of climate change which is reassessed every five years.[23]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Panorama Energético de América Latina y el Caribe 2021". OLADE. November 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "Uruguay - The World Factbook". www.cia.gov. Retrieved 2021-05-20.
  3. Energy Web (2020-07-22). "Uruguay's grid operator, UTE, partners with Energy Web on blockchain-based innovation". Medium. Retrieved 2021-05-20.
  4. "Intended Nationally Determined Contribution: Uruguay" (PDF). UNFCC. 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Uruguay, Latin America's Renewable Champion | Energy Transition". Energy Transition. 2020-01-27. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Why Uruguay's Unprecedented Shift to Clean Energy Is a Model for the World". www.worldpoliticsreview.com. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  7. "COP26: Latin America unveils new climate commitments". Dialogo Chino. 2021-11-04. Retrieved 2021-12-08.
  8. "What's next for the energy transition in Uruguay? | Energy Transition". Energy Transition. 2018-11-16. Retrieved 2021-05-20.
  9. "BNamericas - Uruguay's UTE to invest almost US$1bn by 2025". BNamericas.com. Retrieved 2021-05-20.
  10. "Uruguay Coal Reserves and Consumption Statistics - Worldometer". www.worldometers.info. Retrieved 2021-05-20.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "¿Pueden las renovables llevar a una recuperación verde de América Latina?". Dialogo Chino. October 2, 2020.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 "Uruguay - Country Commercial Guide: Renewable Energy Equipment". United States International Trade Administration. Retrieved 2022-09-25.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Cómo Uruguay se convirtió en el segundo país del mundo en energía eólica". Infobae. October 17, 2021.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Global Electricity Review 2022 (p 10)" (PDF). Ember. March 2022.
  15. "Why Uruguay's Unprecedented Shift to Clean Energy Is a Model for the World". www.worldpoliticsreview.com. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  16. "El "gran paso" que dio Uruguay y que ahora le reduce el impacto de la suba del petróleo". El País. April 23, 2022.
  17. Sánchez Molina, Pilar (March 31, 2022). "Uruguay anuncia subasta para desarrollar proyectos de hidrógeno verde". PV Magazine. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  18. Bellini, Emiliano (June 28, 2021). "Uruguay quiere convertirse en productor de hidrógeno verde". PV Magazine. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  19. "Uruguay Iron or Steel Imports". World Integrated Trade Solution. 2019.
  20. "Environmentalists in Uruguay Fight New Open-Pit Mining Law". Earth Island Journal. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  21. "Uruguay defeats multibillion-dollar mining claim". globalarbitrationreview.com. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  22. "Uruguay Secures Win Over $4B Mining Project Claim - Law360". www.law360.com. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  23. "Uruguay: National Resettlement Plan". unfccc.int. Retrieved 2021-12-09.