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Green energy development: Uruguay, Colombia and Malaysia

When the global financial crisis hit in 2008 and fossil fuel prices rose, Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez sought help from physicist Ramón Méndez Galain, who transformed the country’s energy grid into one of the cleanest in the world. Within a decade, approximately 50 wind farms were installed in Uruguay, the electricity grid was decarbonised, and the hydroelectric sector was expanded. Currently, Uruguay uses virtually no fossil fuels to produce electricity, and depending on the weather, between 90 and 98% of electricity comes from renewable sources.

In Colombia, where only 1% of electricity currently comes from alternative sources, legislation has been approved encouraging local communities and indigenous groups to work together to generate energy from renewable sources – wind farms, small hydroelectric projects and biofuels – and sell it to the national grid. Currently, over 70% of Colombia’s electricity is produced by large hydroelectric dams, which significantly adversely impact communities and the environment. While more than 50 possible wind and solar projects have been announced in Colombia since 2019, none are operational yet.

The Malaysian authorities promise that there will be no more new oil palm plantations for palm oil and no coal-fired power plants in their country. Instead, politicians want to raise electricity tariffs for wealthy citizens and shift them towards alternative energy sources while continuing to subsidise electricity and fuel for the less wealthy. The National Adaptation Plan and the Climate Change Act will be ready by 2025.

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