Wind energy suffers the uncertainty of Argentina

The Argentine Wind Energy Chamber warned this week that, due to exchange restrictions, the financing for this type of wind power works is “suspended”. There are currently five wind farms under construction in three districts, with hundreds of hired workers.
The Argentine Wind Energy Chamber (CEA) released a statement this week in which it expressed its “deep concern” about the restrictions that the Central Bank had for the purchase, sale and possession of dollars, which – he warned – “endanger the continuity of the sector’s investment projects ”in the country, including those that are being executed in Bahía Blanca and the region.

According to CEA, there are about US $ 2 billion of “suspended” financing, which puts at risk the wind farm projects under development and in progress, as well as “current and future jobs”.

There are seven wind farms in operation in Bahía Blanca and the region, but five others are under construction and employ hundreds of workers. This is San Jorge and El Mataco (from the company PCR-Luz de Tres Picos), in Tornquist; Winds of the Secano and García del Río (Envision Energy), in Villarino and Bahía Blanca, respectively; and Energy I (AES Argentina Generación), in Tornquist.

In total, 105 wind turbines, almost double those that are already producing wind energy in the area.

“Vientos del Secano has a normal performance,” said Martín Ravanesi, director of the Government of Villarino and head of the Renewable Energy and Environment Agency. In recent days, the generators will arrive at Mayor Buratovich, and we are entering between 10 and 12 trucks of sand and stone ”.

“We don’t know that some companies have cash flow problems and have to cut a contract with some contractors. We know, for example, that there were problems in Chubut and that a tender was lost in Neuquén, but nothing like this happens in Villarino, ”he said.
Ravanesi recalled that Vientos del Secano is in the last four months of work.

“They are assembling the structures; that is, in the last section of work prior to interconnection with the national system. And, as we know, the funds they should receive have already been drawn. All they have left is to bring some equipment from the port of Ingeniero White, but the equipment is already in Argentina, ”he said.

The company in charge of the works – Envision Energy, of Chinese capitals – also runs the García del Río park.
The other three works in progress are located in Tornquist; there too, at least for now, there are problems arising from the lack of funding.

“We have not received any information about it. We understand that the works are still going on, because neither of the two companies (PCR and AES Argentina) have told us anything about it, ”said Santiago Magnani, Energy Efficiency Advisor at Tornquist.

Beyond this, there is a fact to keep in mind: PCR (Petroquímica Comodoro Rivadavia) is one of the members of CEA and signatory of the document that circulated this week. Others are Genneia and Central Puerto, which also have investments in this region.

According to these entities, since 2016, more than 3.5 billion dollars have been invested to develop solar parks in Argentina, mostly from foreign banks or development agencies that finance these projects on condition that they use technology from their countries.

Until mid-year the flow of dollars was normal, but after the primaries the exchange restrictions imposed by the BCRA arrived and the situation changed completely.

“Before, the credit went directly to the country where the payments had to be made. For example, if a company bought Danish wind turbines, the payment went straight to that firm in Denmark, ”he told La Nueva. Mr. Javier Reyes, renewable energy specialist.

“With the new restrictions,” he continued, “wind energy companies are obliged to enter 100% of dollars into Argentina and pesify them immediately, since they cannot treasure foreign currency. Weeks or months later, when they are going to need dollars to pay for equipment, guarantees or insurance, they have to ask for authorization to buy them. ”
In addition to being cumbersome, the restrictions leave companies in a very vulnerable situation against the devaluation of the peso.
“And there is also the problem that what they perceive for the sale of energy can no longer be freely turned abroad. The consequence of all this, “said Reyes,” is that investments are slowed. “
Wind power sector companies agree that “until February nothing will happen” in terms of new investments.
“Until the rules of the game are clear, all wind turbines projects will remain in stand-by. The problem is those that are underway with 200 or 300 workers, due to the uncertainty that is generated; there it will depend on the source of financing of each company and what rest they have to continue working, ”said Reyes.

The specialist warned that there are contractors of some ongoing wind farm projects that do not charge since July.
“The problem is going to be noticed if at some point they stop paying employees and the unions begin to mobilize,” he said.
This week the UOCRA of Puerto Madryn decided to mobilize and cut off access to the work of the Chubut Norte II wind farm, of Genneia. The reason: they were told that they will not be able to face the payment of salaries.
“After the payment of the previous fortnight they informed us that they will not be able to face the payment of the fortnights that follow”, denounced Javier Moya, organizational secretary of UOCRA.
 520 workers work directly in the wind farm, while for Pretensa – an outsourced firm – they do more than 500.
The unionist asked Genneia to “make it clear on this issue,” and pointed to what the companies have been denouncing: “They do not pay for political decisions of the central government.”