Meet the Permanent Representative of Uruguay to IRENA

30 August 2020| Articles


Uruguay has significantly reduced its dependence on imported fossil fuels and hydroelectricity by transforming its energy mix through domestic renewables adoption. By the end of 2018, the share of renewables in its power mix had grown to more than 98%, without subsidies, and largely made possible by the implementation of enabling policies by the state-owned utility. The Permanent Representative of Uruguay to IRENA, H.E. Ambassador Alvaro Ceriani, talked to us about transport, storage and knowledge-sharing.

My country’s achievements in the field of renewable energy – particularly in the last 13 years – have transformed the national power system from one that is highly dependent on fossil fuels to one that is 98% renewables. This was a wise political decision that supports Uruguay’s goal to diminish fossil fuel use and reduce emissions (which are estimated to be 84% less than the expected trend scenario) in order to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius in the present century. I must say that the decision to completely revolutionise our energy system will not only benefit our nationals and our region but the rest of the world as well.

Becoming a Permanent Representative of IRENA meant great pride but also enormous responsibility, given our country’s historic and active participation within the organisation. Last year started with a great deal of passion and commitment from my country to achieve 100% of its electricity from renewable energy in the near future and to cooperate with other countries that are also on a similar path towards a renewables-based energy transformation. In that regard, in 2019, Uruguay offered to share its national experience on the shift to renewable energy with the world, initially through “south-south cooperation” in the GRULAC region (Latin-America and the Caribbean) with the collaboration and guidance of IRENA.

“I must say that the decision to completely revolutionise our energy system will not only benefit our nationals and our region but the rest of the world as well.”

In my role as Permanent Representative, Uruguay had the privilege to host the first Innovation Day in Latin America, on July 2019, as well as proudly participate in two IRENA Council meetings last year and the 10th Session of the IRENA Assembly at the beginning of this year. As mentioned, in 2019 Uruguay proposed to foster cooperation among Latin American and Caribbean countries and share lessons learned from transforming the national electric sector and successfully introducing renewable energy in the country.

Among the greatest challenges facing the energy transition will be a smooth transition of the transport sector from fossil fuels to renewables. The transport sector is still running behind the rest of the other sectors when it comes to the global shift to renewable energy. Another challenge is storage. Battery charging systems and storage capacity of solar and wind need to be improved through innovation and the utilisation of new technologies.

If I could introduce one policy overnight it would be to promote the shift of the transport sector away from fossil fuels to renewables to reduce emissions and keep temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, as outlined by the Paris Agreement. In this regard, and in line with Uruguay’s National Strategy for Development, my country has been working consistently to diminish the transport sector’s reliance on fossil fuels by increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road. For instance, we have incorporated 30 electric buses last month and hopefully more will be added in the future.

H.E. Ambassador Alvaro Ceriani, Ambassador of Uruguay to the UAE, became Uruguay’s Permanent Representative to IRENA on August 2019. Recently, His Excellency participated in IRENA’s “Renewables Talk” to discuss the role of renewables in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.