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China will take on Argentina wind energy project

By Yang Yao | China Daily Latin America | Updated: 2015-02-02 04:11

The state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) announced on Jan 21 that HydroChina Corporation will provide the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for a 104-megawatt wind scheme in Argentina's La Rioja province.

HydroChina Corporation is a subsidiary of Chinese engineering and construction firm Power Construction Corporation of China. It is active in electricity generation from hydropower plants and wind farms.

In November last year, the company and the local government agreed to collaborate on wind power projects. At that time, HydroChina showed interest in the planned expansion of the 50.4-megawatt state-owned Arauco wind farm to 100 megawatts.

HydroChina aims to kick off construction at the site in Arauco village soon, after securing the financing and approvals for the project. The company will also continue to seek other business opportunities in Argentina not only in the wind segment, but in the water supply and infrastructure sector.

In October 2014, HydroChina announced it plans to develop 500 megawatts of wind projects in Buenos Aires, in cooperation with US power generation and infrastructure firm Atlantic Power Corp.

Argentina has a robust wind power potential. A study by the Argentine Renewable Energy Chamber found almost 70 percent of the country's land has wind speeds greater than six meters per second. Average wind speeds of nine to 12 meters per second can be found in Central and Southern Patagonia.

Argentina also set a target of 8 percent renewable energy for the whole country by 2016. The huge new wind power project will be able to generate four percent of the country's energy, according to estimates.

The project should be completed by 2017, the study said.

Although the country has massive wind power potential, it has limited access to finance.

In 2012, the China Development Bank Corporation agreed to provide Grupo Isolux Corsan SA project in Argentina with $261 million of loans to fund the purchase of 100 megawatts of Chinese turbines, according to a Bloomberg report on November 15.

The loan deal followed the Beijing Construction Engineering Group International's agreement in July 2012 to a $3.5 billion investment in wind energy in Argentina in partnership with local project developer GEASSA (Generadora Eólica Argentina del Sur S.A). The Chinese provided the wind turbines, as well as arranged the capital loans.

Argentina is the second major trading partner of China in Latin America after Brazil.

In the CELAC-China Forum which was held in Beijing in January, President Xi Jinping said that China is going to invest around $250 billion in Latin America in the next decade, and build strategic partnership in areas of infrastructure construction including energy, wind farm, port, roads, and hydropower plants.

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