When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Smarter Cities

After Legalizing Marijuana, Uruguay Now Ready To Save The Planet

Uruguay shows again why it is one of the world's most progressive countries, with the government's recent pledge to aim to use only clean energy in the future.

Wind turbines in Montevideo, Uruguay's capital
Wind turbines in Montevideo, Uruguay's capital
Pablo Correa

There is always some piece of surprising news from Uruguay. The South American continent's smallest state, with barely 3.2 million residents, is not just great at football but it's living standards are comparable to developed states. And with sensitive issues such as drugs, it has decided to stop fussing and opt for progressive policies like liberalizing marijuana.

We can add another, even more impressive accomplishment to the list. Uruguay is implementing a veritable energy revolution. The sun that shines between the blue and white on its flag is taking on new significance because the country is on the verge of obtaining all of its energy from renewable sources — and investing 3% of its GDP to this end. About 40% of this clean energy is already coming from wind, solar and biomass.

Picture this: 70% of the loads being carried on Uruguay's highways consist of equipment related to harvesting energy from wind and solar somewhere on the country's surface of 180,000 square kilometers.

One of the architects of this revolution is National Energy Director Ramón Méndez Galain. Uruguay has no oil, he points out, nor gas, and the country has practically used up its hydroelectric potential, while the economy is growing at 6% a year. At the same time the country wants to reduce poverty.

[rebelmouse-image 27088405 alt="""" original_size="1024x684" expand=1]

Wind turbines on a roof in Punta del Este, Uruguay — Photo: Jimmy Baikovicius

Uruguayans view the shortage of fossil fuels not as a problem but as an opportunity. The four main political parties reached an agreement and committed themselves to a long-term policy. The country's national energy strategy is now set until 2030, and the parties must keep the agreed course, whoever wins the elections.

There have already been results. Uruguayans have seen their electricity bills drop an average of 6%. In 2012, Mexican economist Tabaré Arroyo, author of the WWF Green Energy Leaders report, cited Uruguay as the Latin American country with the highest share of GDP invested in renewables. In 2014, it was the Latin American country with the highest rate of increased investment in clean energy sources.

The secret, says Ramón Méndez, is simple: a long-term policy, the backing of all parties, dialogue between the public and private sectors, and attracting the best brains. He says Uruguay used various incentives to multiply its clean energy researchers — tenfold.

In 2007, when the country created an "auction" mechanism for companies interested in producing clean energy, many experts qualified it as madness, he recalls. Today, 53 states use the auction model. It basically consists of allowing companies to bid for particular quantities of energy production, with contracts going to those offering the best prices. In return, they are assured business for at least 20 years, along with certain technological facilities. Electricity generation prices are competitive and have approached $60 per megawatt hour.

"Everything was foreseen but Uruguay's victory," former FIFA chief Jules Rimet said after Uruguay won the 1950 World Cup.

The country may be looking at another victory in the 21st century's global renewables contest.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Her Mad Existence: The Ultimate Collection Of Evita Perón Iconography

Seventy years after her death, displays in Buenos Aires, including a vast collection of pictures shown online, recall the life and times of "Evita" Perón, the Argentine first lady turned icon of popular culture.

A bookstore in San Telmo, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, displays pictures of Eva Perón.

Maxi Kronenberg

BUENOS AIRES — Her death in 1952 at the age of 33 helped turn the Argentine first lady Eva Perón — known to millions as Evita — into one of the iconic faces of the 20th century, alongside other Argentines like the singer Carlos Gardel, the guerrilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and soccer stars Maradona and Messi.

Evita, née María Eva Duarte, became for many the defender of the poor — and to her detractors, the mother of Latin America's brazen populists — as she pushed for civil rights, gender equality and social programs for the poor in her time as first lady of Argentina in the mid-20th century.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ