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Dramatic growth in variable renewable power market share in Uruguay shows what is possible with strong cross-border interconnection and a flexible grid.
Wind and solar power are variable, and as such imply an additional challenge for grid operators used to dealing with variable electricity demand.
The global think-tank, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), recently highlighted key actions that grid operators can take to smooth the integration of high levels of variable renewables such as wind and solar.
Those steps included incentivising flexible back-up generation, to balance the variability of wind power, and using cross-border interconnection to export generation surpluses, when wind and solar power are fully available.
Uruguay has both excellent flexible hydropower, and good interconnection into Argentina and Brazil, contributing to the country’s extraordinary growth in wind and solar market share.
Wind and solar generation grew by 132% annually from 2013 to 2017. In 2017, Uruguay had a wind and solar market of 32%, compared with 1% in 2013. That leaves the country in second place in a global ranking of national wind and solar power market share, behind Denmark.
The latest monthly electricity data show that wind and solar generation continue to grow, reaching 44% of total generation in January 2018, a new record, beating the previous record set the previous month, for 42%.
Uruguay’s Monthly electricity generation mix, MWh, Jan 2000 – Jan 2018