• The government has set renewable goal of 20 percent by 2025
  • President Macri is supporting drive to supplant fossil fuels

Argentina is prepared to meet the government’s lofty goal of boosting renewable energy to 20 percent from practically zero with a series of projects that have already been given environmental approval, according to a report by energy trading company SAESA.

A total of 7,361 megawatts of wind, solar and small hydroelectric projects are ready to be built in Argentina and be connected to the country’s network, according to SAESA President Juan Bosch.

"There are many private players who have joined the challenge to improve Argentina’s energy situation," Bosch said in an e-mailed statement. "The report shows that Argentina has enough projects to achieve the goal proposed by the government for 2025."

President Mauricio Macri has made renewable energy development one of his government’s main priorities since taking office in December by establishing new rules and regulations and organizing bid rounds for this year. One of his first measures was a law that requires industrial consumers to get 8 percent of their power from renewable sources in 2017 and 20 percent by 2025.

Argentina, which has been a net energy importer for the past few years, depends on natural gas imports from Bolivia to Qatar in order to keep the lights on as output of traditional oil and gas has waned. More than 60 percent of Argentina’s energy capacity comes from fossil fuels.

Upcoming Auctions

While Mexico and Chile have 4.8 gigawatts and 3 gigawatts of renewable energy installed at the moment, Argentina has just 682 megawatts, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

"The market has reacted very well to our plan, with a lot of new greenfields, in addition to the important number of existing projects in last stages of development," Renewable Energy Undersecretary Sebastian Kind said by e-mail. "We have a plan for upcoming auctions, that will be announced soon."

Companies including General Electric Co. and Pampa Energia SA have expressed interest in investing in Argentine renewable energy and participating in bid rounds. The government has already scheduled an auction for October from which it expects to draw $2 billion in investments for renewable energy.

Financing is still the biggest hurdle for renewable energy projects, Gabriel Goldschmidt, International Finance Corp.’s head for infrastructure in Latin America, said in an interview last month.

There are 5,529 megawatts of wind projects in advanced development, mainly in the regions of Comahue, Buenos Aires and Patagonia, according to SAESA. For solar, the capacity of projects developed reach 862 megawatts, in Noa, Centro and Cuyo regions. For small hydroelectric projects, more than 970 megawatts are already developed across the country.

"Buenos Aires and many other provinces are being visited by dozens of local and foreign entrepreneurs," said Bosch. SAESA is negotiating directly with many developers in Argentina to buy renewable energy for the private market, he said.

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