How Argentina can partially alleviate transportation problems without huge expenditures on power lines

How Argentina can partially alleviate transportation problems without huge expenditures on power lines

Cash-strapped Argentina has a wealth of energy resources and a sprawling industrial sector where demand for electricity from renewables is growing as companies – especially exporters – increase their focus on sustainability.

Failure to meet this demand may affect future investment decisions, particularly in electricity-starved sectors such as mining and metals.

Replacing fossil fuel generation with renewable energy would also reduce dependence on costly imports and free up more gas for export, thus generating much-needed dollars for central bank reserves.

applicable relevant legislation. By 2025, some large users – and the country in general – should get at least 20% of their energy from renewables. Nationally, about 13% of demand was covered by renewables last year.

The 20% target is unlikely to be met with a major problem, aside from access to credit, being transportation restrictions, especially in the northwest and southeast, which are key regions for solar and wind developers, respectively. Here, the backup power is either exhausted or about to run out.

To achieve the 20% target alone, about 2.6 gigawatts of new installed renewable energy is needed, experts said during a seminar hosted by the local Renewable Energy Chamber Cader to present the transportation sector report.

“It is clear that without the construction of lines, this is impossible,” Fernando Antognaz, CEO of the Argentine Electricity Generators Association, AJERA, told delegates.

“We need to see how, in the longer term, we will meet this demand, which is increasing and becoming more and more demanding.”

Under the 2040 renewable energy scenarios, about 40,000 km of new lines are needed, which would more than double the current 36,000 km. “The scale is worrying,” Antognaz said.

Solution

While long-term federal planning work is needed immediately along with reforming existing regulations and spending on 500kV lines, Argentina could squeeze some capacity by investing in secondary and mid-grid expansion business.

Citing the Cader study by local consultancy Mercados Energéticos Consultores, Cader Electricity Grid Commission Coordinator Jorge Ayestarán noted that this type of expansion business – which includes components such as transformers and capacitors – was attractive from a cost-benefit perspective.

“If we don’t have that capacity at the national level, the money, the funding — and we have the big bottleneck in the transportation system — there, with a lot less money, it’s interesting what you can achieve,” Astaran said.

About US$39 million is invested in the NOA Transmission Corridor – the heart of the solar energy sector – that can generate about 400 MW of capacity, which comes to about US$99,000/MW, while in the Comahue-Greater Buenos Aires Corridor – mainly home to energy Wind – A US$12.3 million investment to expand the condensate bank at the Olavaria transformer plant could provide 630 MW at a price of US$20,000/MW.

By comparison, the estimated cost of the 354-kilometre, 500-kV Puerto Madryn-Choele Choel and associated infrastructure in Chubut wind pivot province, for example, is $344,000/MW, according to the study. The project was among several initiatives in the government’s 2017 transport plan.

“For me, having seen these numbers, before starting the big streaks, the priority is to tackle this area [minor-intermediate grid expansion work]Astaran said.

Installed capacity, network additives

The growth of renewable energy capacity is being driven by projects – mainly wind energy – that are developed to supply large users directly via a fixed-term market. Some projects awarded under the now discontinued RenovAr supply auctions are still available online.

Argentina currently has 1,066 megawatts of installed solar capacity and 3,292 megawatts of installed wind capacity, according to data from an April report by wholesale energy market manager Cammesa.

The report said no new wind power is scheduled to start operating within the next four months.

In terms of solar energy, 65 MW were due online: Tinogasta Tozzi (10MW, RenovAr 3), Cura Brochero Expansion (8MW, Mater), Cura Brochero (17MW, Mater), Villa María Del Río Seco (20MW, RenovAr 2) and Villa María from Dry River (10 MW, rainy).

Read also: At a Glance: Argentina’s Wind Energy Sector Is Accelerating

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