Argentine wind power: ‘We think that, one way or another, growth will continue’

Argentine wind power: ‘We think that, one way or another, growth will continue’

Argentina’s wind power sector has seen a flurry of project-related announcements in recent months.

The bulk relate to planned projects targeting term market Mater, where large corporate users purchase electricity from renewable sources directly from generators.

Chief demand-side drivers are environmental, social and governance – or ESG – considerations, compliance with national renewable energy usage targets and supply security. 

Among firms helping expand the country's wind park are industrial sector players Acindar, Petroquímica Comodoro Rivadavia and Siderca.

Wholesale power market administrator Cammesa grants Mater projects transmission dispatch priority via regular auction processes. Mater recently assigned priority to 10 renewable energy projects. Nevertheless, available transport capacity in and around renewables hubs in the north and south is limited. To help mitigate the problem, the federal government has introduced measures to free up assigned capacity corresponding to generation projects that have stalled since the country went into an economic tailspin in 2018. 

To find out more about the state of play and hurdles, BNamericas spoke with Héctor Ruiz Moreno, CEO of Argentina’s wind power industry chamber CEA. The chamber comprises more than 20 local and international companies from across the wind power value chain. 

Wind power is the chief technology in the country's renewables sector. Installed renewables capacity stands at 5,136MW, according to data from Cammesa. Wind accounts for 3,292MW.

BNamericas: In recent months, some wind projects have been announced in Argentina, all aiming to supply large users. Is this good news for the local wind industry? And what does this trend indicate about demand for clean energy by companies in Argentina?

Ruiz Moreno: The recent ventures within Mater speak clearly of sector decisions to grow and become a technological hub of clean energy in constant evolution.

Recently, the corporate sphere has been seen requiring a bigger supply of clean energy, which has generated great expectations among developers, technology players and manufacturers to be able to satisfy that demand. This situation is clearly reflected in the latest auctions and awards in the sphere of the term market.

This, notwithstanding the fact that the fundamental problem of transport capacity still remains, together with other issues such as financing and imports, will grant greater possibilities and facilities for the sector to continue growing.

BNamericas: Do you think this trend – demand for clean energy from companies – will strengthen in Argentina in the coming years? Why?

Ruiz Moreno: The energy transition towards clean and renewable energy has accelerated around the world and companies are focusing on environmental, social and governance, or ESG, issues; they are committing to change their energy profiles.

Adding this generation of renewable energy not only brings a benefit to the companies but also to the country’s economy as a whole, since it produces very significant savings by substituting imported gas, freeing up gas production for local consumption and export.

Without a doubt, we think that, in one way or another, growth will continue.

BNamericas: Do you think we will see more similar projects in 2022-23?

Ruiz Moreno: With the resolution of the energy department that made it possible to unblock the capacity of electricity transmission in those projects that could not advance, the sector will be able to progressively increase the participation of renewable sources. This will give us an important boost to achieve the goal of reaching 20% of electrical installed capacity from clean energy by 2025. For this reason, we not only hope that Mater can be consolidated but also that the big players can invest in renewable energies.

BNamericas: Argentina, like many other countries, needs more transmission infrastructure to facilitate the dispatch of more clean energy. Overall, does Argentina's transmission grid have much remaining capacity to incorporate more large renewable plants?

Ruiz Moreno: Argentina has abundant wind and solar resources; however, as said, the lack of sufficient transmission capacity still needs to be resolved. The electricity transmission network needs large infrastructure works to avoid bottlenecks to future growth.

These infrastructure works must be carried out by the State, without prejudice to the possibility of a public-private project, which cannot be ruled out, although it requires important feasibility studies and consensus with the authorities.

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