As a result, 429 MW of forestry biomass power will be installed between 2005 and 2018; 184 MW of that power will deliver electricity to the national grid. Moreover, the Government is working on a new tender to add up to 60 MW installed capacity from biomass to provide electricity to the national grid.
Uruguay's Energy Policy promotes energy generation from renewable sources, particularly from unconventional sources (hydro, wind, biomass and solar). It aims to achieve by 2015 a 50% renewable energy mix and 90% electricity generation from renewable sources. Forestry biomass byproducts (mainly from Eucaliptus sp. and Pinus sp.) are used for both cogeneration and generation of electricity, in addition to conventional steam generation. Governmental promotion of electricity generation from biomass led to the installation of several plants across the country; added to that, pulp industries deliver significant amounts of its generation to the national grid.
Since the enactment of the first forestry law in 1968 Uruguay has a Forestry Policy and Legislation, amended in 1987. In this framework, the General Forestry Directorate of the Ministry of Livestock Agriculture and Fisheries is the institution responsible for implementing the forestry policy. Due to the increase in both native and cultivated forest areas in recent years, Uruguay is no longer a country of low forest cover and now captures more carbon than it emits.
Regarding the commitments arising from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 1992), the Ministry of Housing Land Planning and Environment (MVOTMA), through the Division of Climate Change (DCC) of the National Directorate of Environment, is the competent national authority for its implementation and enforcement. The DCC is responsible for coordination with other institutions and supporting the development of NAMAs
In 2012 Uruguay registered a NAMA related to the incorporation of renewable energy to the national grid to reach 50% stake in the primary mix by 2015. It considered 250 MW of power based on biomass (forestry, rice and bagasse byproducts and black liquor).
The current NAMA, referring exclusively to forestry biomass, is an update and shows the progress on the hiring and promotion of this type of renewable power, demostraiting the continuity of actions related to national energy policy.
Industries generating energy from forestry biomass reduce GHG emissions in two ways: i) Reducing the need to meet demand with fossil fuels; ii) Reducing methane emissions from biomass byproducts (sawdust, chips, bark) accumulated in the open.
Biomass byproducts from forest plantations and industries (sawmills, board manufacturing and pulp mills) have been incorporated into the national electricity generation mix since 2007. Diverse measures were taken to lift existing barriers (mostly of information) for sustainable energetic use of biomass:
- Available biomass resources. The National Biomass Inventory was updated and national forestry mapping is available. These information was supplemented with a forest industry census, which involved estimates of biomass byproduct generation.
- Environmental aspects. There is a National Registry of Management and Forest Land Plans, a National Code of Good Forest Practices and a Sustainable Forest Management Standard. Suitable technologies for sustainable use of biomass for energy purposes in the forest chain were analyzed; forestry by-products liable for energy use are being characterized, as well as potential environmental impacts. The regional energetic crops situation was evaluated with international experts and, considering sustainability criteria, national energetic crops´ caracteristics are being discussed. There is an Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation, which environmental licenses reach cultivated forests (of >100 ha surface) and the industrial sector. Good industrial practices in terms of air emissions and air quality were evaluated. - Promotion of biomass generation: The economic impact was analyzed, including initial investment, jobs created, wages and foreign exchange balance; as well as externalities and other social-economic-environmental issues. There is a fluid interaction with forestry, energy and environmental stakeholders in areas of collective participation.
The current NAMA presents 224 additional MW from forestry biomass regarding the 2012 NAMA; some of them are operating and the rest will be installed by 2018. Of the total amount, 118 MW will provide electricity to the national grid.