Uruguay is committed to exploit the capacity of indigenous renewable energy resources in 2015.

The north has the largest thermal solar potential, while the south has more wind potential. According to researchers at the Faculty of Engineering, is a fringe benefit.

The main objective of solar and wind maps is to provide accurate information to companies interested in investing in the exploitation of these resources in Uruguay. Its implementation will not be immediate, but part of government plans to achieve an electrical grid with more than 90% renewable energy by 2015.

If government plans to materialize, “we would be the first Latin American country to do that,” says Gonzalo Abal, director of the Institute of Physics, Faculty of Engineering UDELAR, who participated in the development of solar map. “Uruguay has not a drop of oil, no coal, no gas. All you pay cash,” he adds.

“Our country is basically a self or indigenous energy resource which is hydraulically operated. Now, the water resource can not be explored in greater abundance because there is availability. Is ‘exhausted’, to put it in some way. Then, Uruguay has had to use other energy sources that are not native, as the purchase of oil, buying power from outside or, perhaps in the near future, buying natural gas. Whether the electricity comes from a pipe or a cable, buy energy, “adds Joseph Cataldo, head of the Renewable Energy Group of the same faculty, who made the wind map.

Indigenous sources that the country could explode in the future are wind, solar and biomass.

“If you look at the amount of energy we are able to provide hydroelectric power for the country’s energy consumption in a year, on average, hydropower supplies 70% of that consumption. Or is there someone 30% it must provide, “said Cataldo, referring to indigenous energy sources mentioned above.

The production of solar and wind maps began in 2008 when the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines commissioned the School of Engineering their implementation, but also requested the survey of national industrial capabilities to develop these technologies.

SOLAR MAP. To date, the solar resource of Uruguay has never been released. The lack of data average of previous years, was the main difficulty faced by the team at the Institute of Physics to measure radiation.

Possessed “very little” radiation data, which together information provided by Weather Hours of sun. To overcome this gap had to resort to data on Argentine and Brazilian areas bordering Uruguay, provided by their respective countries.

“The hours of sunshine the data can be correlated with incident radiation. So, you arrive at estimate (theoretically) use,” said Abalos.

According to the data that arrived in the north are up to 27% more solar energy potential in the south. “The same investment, you will generate a return almost 30% higher in the north,” Abal said, adding that there are two explanations for that: “The highest and lowest latitude clouds.” The physicist explains that solar energy will not replace the hydraulics, but “may be a supplement.”

This energy would take advantage of through hubs. In fact, as part of the Faculty of Engineering is working on the design of solar concentrators, “The first step is to build a prototype, and evaluate operating it,” reports Abal. The cost of a concentrator is estimated at $ 8,000 and is funded by the ANII.

“I would be starting to work in late 2011. The project’s philosophy is to develop local technology that does not depend essentially on foreign technologies, but something always going to have to buy abroad,” says Horacio Failache, in front of this part the project.

A final step will be human resource training “because there,” says Abal.

WIND MAP. Unlike solar map, Uruguay did have information on the wind resource available. What was proposed, then, was “building a new wind map with updated information, incorporating any additional information as the existence of topography, terrain roughness levels,” says Cataldo.

The study concluded that “the levels of wind in Uruguay are fully adequate to exploit the resource with existing technology in the world. It is not necessary to make any custom design. In addition, exploitation may be performed in “practically all the territory.” Less suitable areas would be those heavily wooded or steep, or that because protected areas are not covered as an option.

Cataldo also stresses that “the installation of wind turbines is compatible with conventional agricultural use of land.” Regarding the impact on the environment, the engineer said: “The (effects) are more harmful noise, but which are not perceived distance, the interaction with the birds, for which there are specific studies that are . Now there are three blades because, among other things, people like more.”

These maps are available on the website of the National Directorate of Energy and Nuclear Technology.

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