Peralta Wind Farm, Uruguay

Peralta Wind Farm, Uruguay

In the countryside of central Uruguay, the blades of 50 wind turbines turn in the breeze, creating enough energy to power up to 150,000 homes. The turbines make up the Peralta Wind Farm (Parque Eólico Peralta), one of the largest of such facilities in the country.

The foundations of these turbines, and the infrastructure connecting them, can be seen in this image, acquired by the OLI (Operational Land Imager) on Landsat 8 on November 19, 2023. The Peralta Wind Farm is in the Tacuarembó Department near the shore of Rincón del Bonete Lake, which was created by damming the Río Negro.

Peralta, which began operating in 2015, is an example of how wind power has grown rapidly in Uruguay in recent years. Between 2013 and 2018, Uruguay increased wind power from 1 percent to 34 percent of its electricity mix. “Uruguay ramped up wind power at an astonishing rate during those five years, faster than any other country,” said Joel Jaeger, a senior research associate at World Resources Institute.

Jaeger recently analyzed the adoption rates of renewable energy in countries across the world. Many high-income countries topped the list of renewable energy development, but Uruguay’s rate was the fastest, despite being a developing country. Part of the motivation behind ramping up wind power was prolonged drought in the early 2000s. “Uruguay has historically depended on hydropower, but when reservoirs are low, dams don’t generate as much electricity,” Jaeger said.

In recent years, Uruguay has produced excess wind power and exported some to Argentina and Brazil. However, drought in 2023 led to low power production at Río Negro and Salto Grande hydroelectric plants and prompted the country to import electricity from Argentina.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Wanmei Liang, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Story by Emily Cassidy.

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