The GenRen tender was announced in May 2009 to meet the requirements of a 2006 renewables law aiming to produce 8% of the country’s electricity from alternative energy sources by 2016.
Wind energy makes up the majority of the deal at 794MW combined with 110MW of thermal energy from biofuels; 20MW of solar photovoltaic power; and 11MW of small hydro business.
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced the deals in Buenos Aires following lengthy tender proceedings.
State energy company Enarsa is handling the process and will be placing the new energy in the Argentine electrical market, through 15-year power purchase agreements.
The government has awarded the business to 12 companies who, according to reports in the Argentine press have promised to invest 9billion pesos over the next three years. The principal winners are Isolux, Emgasud, Pescarmona and Lesca.
The key winner in the area of wind power is Isolux who have won the right to 200MW acrosss four projects in the province of Chabut.
Following this, Emgasud has won the right to wind power farms in Rawson and Puerto Madryn with a capacity of 180MW; IMRSA (Pescarmona) with 155MW from farms in Chabut and Santa Cruz; and the rest divided between Sogesic (99MW), Patagonia Wind Energy (50MW), International New Energies (50MW) and Energias Sustentables (20MW).
The combination of 51 approved renewables projects will be scattered across Argentina’s vast 3.8 million square kilometre landmass.
The country’s diverse terrain encompasses mountains, plains and plateaus. In addition to the central plains, the richest region for wind-power is in the South, most obviously the stony plateaus of Patagonia swept by the wind during most of the year.
According to a recent study by the Argentine Renewable Energy Chamber (CADER), nearly 70% of Argentina’s territory has winds with an annual average speed of more than 6 m/s.
In Central and Southern Patagonia the speeds can reach on average 9 m/s and up to 12 m/s and experience annual average capacity factors of more than 45%.
Beyond the official enthusiasm for a project which will deliver 4% of the national grid from alternative sources of energy, analysts have two potential criticisms of the decision.
The quota of 50MW per project specified in the initial agreement was not carried out. Furthermore there is a fear the concentration of wind projects in the state of Chabut could saturate Patagonia’s high-tension transmission line and affect electricity delivery to the rest of the country.