This Country Shifted To Getting 95% of Its Electricity From Renewables In Less Than 10 Years

Written by on December 7, 2015 in Eco-Friendly, Environment with 16 Comments
 Lawrence Murray/Flickr

Lawrence Murray/Flickr

By Fiona MacDonald | Science Alert 

At the climate summit in Paris this week, the South American nation of Uruguayhas announced that it gets an enviable 94.5 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. And they've done it without government subsidies or raising the price for consumers.

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In fact, electricity prices are now cheaper than they've ever been for the 3.4 million people living in Uruguay, which eliminates one of the main excuses people have for not being able to transition away from fossil fuels: it costs too much.

And before you say that such a dramatic shift isn't feasible for larger economies, Uruguay has made the transition without any crazy new technology or radical investment.

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In fact, national director of energy, Ramón Méndez, told the climate summitdelegates that the formula is incredibly replicable, and is simply a result of: “clear decision-making, a supportive regulatory environment and a strong partnership between the public and private sector”.

See? Anyone can do it.

“What we’ve learned is that renewables is just a financial business,” said Méndez. “The construction and maintenance costs are low, so as long as you give investors a secure environment, it is a very attractive.”

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One of the biggest changes over the past 10 years is how many wind farms have popped up all over the countryside, with wind energy now providing the largest portion of electricity. Uruguay is naturally a pretty windy place, which is attractive to wind energy companies, but what's been even more appealing is that the country has offered foreign investors a fixed state utility price for 20 years.


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16 Reader Comments

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  1.' Indigo Soldier says:

    Congratulations Urugusy! Lead the way

  2.' Kathleen Russell says:

    Yes it’s doable in the US. It will not happen as long as the Oil companies are in charge of the government energy policy….which they are.

    •' Todd Dennis says:

      We ARE the People! Positive change for the POSITIVE generation. NO FEAR FOR the END of MONEY is NEAR.

    •' Kathleen Russell says:

      I’m not worried Todd. The end is coming for the Oil companies…the banks…and finally money will be gone. I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

  3.' Pame Hernández Santana says:

    Go Uruguay!!!

  4.' Kelvin Lee says:


  5.' Lucille Amadeo says:

    DOABLE but will the energy industry allow it?

  6.' Marsha Creary says:


  7.' Pete Smith says:

    While the UK is still in denial!

  8.' Michael Kowalewski says:

    Doable in Canada. Get rid of corruption, and in 5 years we could catch up… on that note it was revealed by auditor general that people in the province of Ontario have been overcharged by 37 billion in electricity costs, in last few years…

    •' Maria Rodrigues Domingues says:

      So true! They think we’re very stupid, but no opposes anything there, until enough is enough.

  9.' Dehlia Jane Cook says:

    Uruguay hasn’t been bought yet, the guy in charge barely makes 14 grand/year if that…he cares about his countrymen

  10.' Christie Gil says:

    Not necessarily enviable. 95% of Uruguay’s electricity would probably power Boston. Pretty sure we have at least the equivalent. The amount of energy the US gets from renewable energy could probably power 50 Uruguay’s.

  11.' Katie Cram says:

    Um this is cool and all but animal agriculture causes the most harm to the environment. If that’s not addressed, then any effort to subvert climate change is a joke. The amount of livestock we are raising is not sustainable for the planet. We have over 10 billion cows to feed 7 billion people. Do you know how much food and water goes into raising a cow? How much land has to be cleared? You could feed like 10 people for what you feed a cow. We shouldn’t be experiencing starvation on this planet. We need to stop cutting down rain forests to clear the land for livestock. Our political leaders should be advising people to eat more apples and less burgers.

  12. This is a fantastic achievement for Uruguay, it just shows that with proper policy and some clear heads, renewables truly can work wonders.

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