Wind power in Argentina: Renewable Generation auction definition begins

The Argentine government announced the results of the 1,015 megawatt (MW) renewable energies tender proposed last May. The total offers reached 1,461 MW, a 46% oversubscription. The offers were broken down by technology: 1,203 for wind power; 155.4 MW from biofuels; 54.1 MW from biomass; 14 MW from biogas; 22.5 MW from photovoltaic solar energy; and 12.7 MW from small hydro projects.

The opening of the sealed envelopes was done at a ceremony at the presidential mansion known as la Casa Rosada, which included words from Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as well as from the Federal Planning Minister, Julio de Vido.

According to a recent study by the Argentine Renewable Energy Chamber (CADER), nearly 70% of Argentina’s territory is covered with winds whose annual average speed, measured at 50 meters above ground level, surpasses 6 m/s. In Central and Southern Patagonia the speeds can reach on average 9 m/s and up to 12 m/s. Most areas in the vast Patagonia region experience annual average capacity factors above 45%. The provinces of Córdoba, part of San Luis, La Pampa, San Juan, La Rioja and the central and southwestern regions of the province of Buenos Aires yield capacity factors between 35% and 40%.

But despite such massive potential, the 30 MW of wind generation that has been installed to date comes mainly from projects completed between the mid-1990s and early 2000s that were developed by small cooperatives in the Patagonian region.

The tender had been launched by the government last May to assist in the requirements under Renewable Energies Law 26.190 from 2006 that requires that by the year 2016, fully 8% of the country’s energy matrix must be derived from renewable sources. Once all offers have been reviewed, the government must evaluate each one objectively – prices offered and the companies’ technical and financial capacity, among others. According to calculations by the Argentine Renewable Energies Chamber, if all 1,462 MW are accepted it will result in investments in excess of US$2 billion and the creation of approximately 1000 new jobs.

After the public announcement, the President of the chamber, Carlos St. James, exchanged thoughts about the next steps with President Fernandez, expressing optimism about the future of the industry. "These offers, considering the quality and prestige of the multinational companies making them, leaves no doubt that Argentina is on its way to developing a full-fledged renewable energies industry. This is a clear demonstration of what can be achieved when a fluid communication is established between the public and private sectors."

As the chamber had indicated in its recent State of the Argentine Wind Industry study published last May, Argentina has unequaled potential to develop wind energy, as seen by the dominance of wind projects in the tender totaling 1,203 MW, more than 80% of the total offerings. According to Mauro Soares, President of the Wind Energy Committee of the Chamber, "This tender generated unparalleled activity and interest from our sector; the number of proposals focused on wind was very gratifying. Now we will finally see this energy become part of our country’s energy matrix. We welcome this launch of the industry in Argentina, and I congratulate all those that worked towards making it possible.” Also, Sebastian Kind, co-author of the study and board member of the chamber, stated, “Today we saw a high degree of confidence of the sector’s potential; the 1461 MW offered represent solid foundations for a prosperous renewable industry. Argentina has a unique opportunity to generate new skills and develop technology while providing clean and competitive energy for our future."

According to a recent study published by New Energy Finance, based in London, the global renewable energies industry invested US$155 billion in 2008, with a compound annual growth rate of 45%. Latin America captured US$12 billion of this total, but it is growing at a CAGR of 145%.

The Argentine Renewable Energies Chamber (Cámara Argentina de Energías Renovables, or CADER) is a non-profit industry trade association dedicated to the sustainable development of renewable energies in Argentina. It seeks to play a vital role in the establishment of a solid and vibrant industry, one which is respected globally for its standards and practices.

The Chamber counts among its members companies that believe these principles and work towards developing the local solar, wind and biomass sectors. Its great diversity in members creates one of the Chamber’s greatest strengths, since it is the only organization that represents the entire spectrum of this nascent industry’s value chain.

In past days the envelopes with the technical offer of the Official Plan of Renewable Energies (GENREN) bid were opened. The proposing companies are now waiting for the economic offer envelopes, which will be handed once the technical analysis is concluded. The complete list of proposing companies follows.

1. Emgasud Renovables: 4 wind farms (3 of 50 MW and one of 30 MW, two in Madryn and one in Rawson)

2. Patagonia Wind Energy: one 50 MW wind park, in Madryn.

3. Energías Sustentables SA: one 20 MW wind farm, in West Madryn.

4. International New Energy: one 50 MW wind park, in North Madryn.

5. Sogesic SA: 2 wind parks, of 50 MW, in Tres picos.

6. Unitec Energy – San Jose Argentina – INVAP (UTE): 2 wind parks, of 50 MW.

7. Isolux Ingenieria – Gas y Petróleo de Neuquén – Ingenieria Sima SA, (UTE): one 50 MW wind park.

8. Isolux Ingenieria: 4 wind parks of 50 MW in Loma Blanca 1.2.3 and 4.

9. Impsa Wind SA: 10 wind parks. Kaluel Kayke I (50MW), II (25MW), Malaspina I (50 MW), II (30MW), Condor Cliff La Barrancosa (50MW), Piedra Buena I (50MW), II (30MW), Las Heras (50 MW), Tornquist (50MW).

10. Pan American Fueguinas SA: 28 MW wind park in Cerro Dragon.

Patagonia in Argentina has some of the best conditions in the world for wind power generation. Not only are the winds strong in Patagonia, but they are also fierce in the south of Buenos Aires province and interior provinces such as Córdoba. Blessed with such potential, Argentina should be a world leader in wind energy.

The complete list of members can be found at: