Green Power Technology and Equipment

An Expert's View about Energy in Argentina

Posted on: 24 May 2012

Argentina’s carbon footprint from power generation is low, with about 90% of power
generation in Argentina coming from hydro sources and thermal plants fired by natural gas
and another 7 percent from nuclear power. As Argentina's total demand for electricity
continues to grow, increasing the consumption of hydropower could significantly reduce the
country's emissions of greenhouse gases. However, hydropower has been controversial, as
charges against companies have been made that hydroelectric dams in Argentina are
responsible for the displacement of some 45,000 Argentine citizens and for significant
negative environmental impact in the area.
Argentina has begun to further utilize energy derived from wind power, as the country
features one of the world’s top three wind corridors located in southern Argentina
(Patagonia). Historically, wind power has been used only minimally, mainly for pumping
drinking water. However, wind-based energy has attracted significant attention recently as
an economically viable source of electric power. In some parts of the Patagonian south,
strong westerly winds blow at an average rate of 36 miles per hour. In this region, the use of
wind power has been promoted by independent electric cooperatives for several rural areas
which do not have access to the federal electricity grid.
Argentina's national legislature approved regulations which stipulate that energy utility
centers must purchase wind-generated electricity if it is made available to them. Although
investors have begun to fund the construction of new wind farms in the lower region, it
remains very costly to transmit electricity produced in the south all the way to areas in the
north, where demand is highest. The GOA estimates that as much as 15 percent of the
country's energy needs could potentially be met by wind power by 2020. It has issued
contracts to complete the linkage of southern Patagonia to the national power grid. This may
reduce the marginal cost of power transmission to the north, even though it will still be
expensive. A number of hydroelectric projects in Santa Cruz Province could also take
advantage of this connection. The GOA recently issued a tender for the provision of 1,000
MW from renewable energy sources, half of it from wind, and there are already various wind
farm projects underway.
U.S. products that employ green energy sources have the potential to do well in the Argentine
market. In fact, the U.S. ranks among the top three suppliers of technology for both solar and wind power generation, and as Argentina’s alternative energy sector continues to
expand, the market will continue to offer new business opportunities to U.S. suppliers.
As one of the world’s largest agricultural countries, Argentina holds great prospects for biofuels.
Argentina is already the world's largest exporter and the fourth largest producer of
biodiesel, mostly made from soybean oil. A recent bio-fuels law mandates a five percent biofuels mix in gasoline and diesel, starting in 2010. The USG and the GOA signed a bilateral
cooperation agreement on renewable energy with the GOA last year, which we have followed
up on with several meetings and videoconferences on subjects of interest to the Argentines,
such as wind power and second-generation bio-fuels. We are now working closely with
Argentina on promoting President Obama’s Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas,
an initiative designed to foster the development of clean and renewable energy throughout
the Hemisphere. On June 15, 2009, a hemispheric symposium took place in Lima, Peru, to
advance this initiative, and Argentina took an active part in the symposium.

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Posted: 24 May 2012

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