Uruguay saves energy for the future
July 19, 2012
- Using solar energy to generate electricity has changed the lives of hundreds of rural families.
- It changed the perception that higher energy consumption means a better quality of life.
- In 6 years the National Program for Energy Efficiency made significant savings.
"It literally changed my life," said Pablo Rodriguez, a rural worker who, for the first ever time, has 24 hour access to electricity in his home thanks to a photovoltaic (solar energy) panel, which he is paying for in 60 monthly installments of $150 pesos (around US$7).
What has made Pablo happier is that with electricity at home, his son can use the computer to do his homework --a story which is repeated throughout the 757 modest homes in Uruguay’s deep interior where residential photovoltaic systems have been installed.
This was just one of the National Energy Efficiency Program’s projects, which ended in 2011. With an investment of U.S. $ 22 million, the program achieved, in 6 years, cumulative savings equivalent to the total annual household consumption of a region such as Artigas.
They took the first steps towards a cultural change in a country where, until recently, increased consumption was associated with comfort and a better quality of life.
Part of these savings are generated through agreements between the UTE and private companies. This partnership led to a reduction in annual energy consumption equivalent to that of 400 cars.
With "A todas luces" another of the program’s initiatives (founded during the 2008 energy crisis), 2 million 300 thousand energy saving light bulbs were distributed, saving an estimated US$15 million per year.
Continuity and Cultural Change
The World Bank devised the project with the National Energy Directorate (s) and the UTE (s). It also obtained financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and provided technical advice to the specially created Energy Efficiency Unit (s).
Along with the Energy Efficiency Unit, "the Energy Efficiency Act was approved and two trusts were created to secure funding for future projects and the continuation of this program," as the National Director of Energy, Ramon Mendez explained.
Gerardo Honty from Ceuta, an NGO concerned with environmental issues, emphasized that the Energy Efficiency Program "took the first steps towards a cultural change in a country where, until recently, increased consumption was associated with comfort and a better quality of life.”