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    Uruguay : With United Nations funds, Uruguay will leverage private renewable energy projects

    May 23, 2022 - Al Bawaba Business


      The MIEM and other institutions launched the Renewable Energy Innovation Fund (REIF). Through this United Nations fund, Uruguay will promote private electromobility, green hydrogen and circular economy projects. With them, the country will advance towards its second energy transition with innovation and technological development. The challenge is to "generate competitiveness, attract investment and boost the country's economy", with positive impacts on job creation, said Minister Omar Pagnanini.

      The Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining (MIEM), the Ministry of the Environment, the Planning and Budget Office, UTE and the United Nations (NU) , through various agencies, presented the Renewable Energy Innovation Fund (REIF, for its acronym in English) in an event held in the Executive Tower on May 17.

      Several national authorities participated in the event, including the Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining, Omar Paganini ; the undersecretary of the MIEM, Walter Verri ; and the National Director of Energy, Fitzgerald Cantero , together with the Minister of the Environment, Adrin Pea , the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Pablo Ruiz Hiebra , the representative of the United Nations Development Organization (UNIDO) for the Southern Cone, Manuel Albaladejo , the MIEM environmental and energy advisor, Mara Jos Gonzlez, and the coordinator of the REIF Uruguay program, Paula Cobas .

      The REIF consists of an economic contribution from the UN to leverage "private projects with a level of risk that require a contribution to be viable," Minister Paganini explained. This will allow "unlocking" initiatives that allow the country to advance within the framework of its second energy transition , which includes electromobility, green hydrogen and the circular economy. To execute the REIF, there will be a committee that will evaluate the projects, of any scale, from the technical point of view.

      The REIF is possible since Uruguay was among the four countries in the world selected among 155 nations, within the framework of the UN Joint Fund for the Sustainable Development Goals . Our country, said Paganini, is a pioneer in carrying out this model, and is the only middle-income country that will carry out an initiative of this type. Among other points, the head of the MIEM valued the positive consequences that this plan will have on decarbonization and the fight against climate change .

      Uruguay has positioned itself as an exemplary case worldwide in what was its power generation matrix. Now we have to move on to the second transition, and the second transition is to address challenges. These are, on the one hand, the advance towards electrification in transport, said the minister before his audience. Paganini explained that for short-distance transport the specific challenge is financial and involves looking at batteries. For this reason, "adequate incentives" are required for the development of the infrastructure associated with electromobility, while also working to overcome the "cultural barriers" against this option.

      On the other hand, in long-distance cargo transport, as well as in maritime and air transport, the challenges are greater, "but the technology associated with green hydrogen is appearing as a strong option," explained the hierarch. "This government believes that there is an opportunity for Uruguay that goes beyond its borders on this issue," he said. In addition, he announced that "interesting investment projects" are being received in this area.

      "At the same time, we are embarking on sponsoring one or several pilot projects before the end of the year," the Secretary of State reported. To this end, it will have the support of UTE, Ancap, LATU and ANII.

      The minister explained that although Uruguay has the advantage of combining different energy sources, "the need for storage is going to be stronger in the future and we have to move towards these technologies." Otherwise, he warned, thermal backup will always be required. For this reason, he insisted, that is one of the lines in which the country must advance, just as the rest of the world is doing.

      Investment is needed in infrastructure, in new projects that generate employment, in new technologies to incorporate both electromobility and storage and demand management. There are smart grids as an issue in which UTE is already being at the forefront, but surely much more can be advanced, added the hierarch.

      Paganini hoped that this would bring environmental and economic benefits and, at the same time, employment, inclusion and access. The challenge is to "generate competitiveness, attract investment and boost the country's economy."

      The minister recalled that they work together with the United Nations in pursuit of these achievements. "The objective is to leverage measures aimed at this second transition in all these aspects, innovatively incorporating the private sector" so that the amount obtained is greatly enhanced, he indicated.

      This is the great challenge of this project. That these seed funds reduce risks, allow to adequately encourage new projects , that have an impact on inclusion, on generating employment, on looking at the gender issue, he pointed out. Therefore, the goal is for the private sector to "take advantage of this opportunity" and this will boost the second energy transition.

      "Uruguay's positioning as a country that takes into account environmental, social and governance factors is a reality, but to that we add the innovation factor," said Paganini, who assured that our country can position itself in this way, leading in the region.

      The Secretary of State considered that the new instruments will be "very valuable" to achieve these objectives, in an inter-institutional manner. "We're going in the right direction," he finished him.


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