Argentina now has over 700MW of installed PV capacity after the completion of the 312MW Cauchari complex, propelling the country into one of the leading positions in South American solar.
Argentina joins Brazil and Chile as the countries with the largest solar capacities in South America. Brazil has around 2.4GW of utility-scale solar plants and Chile has just over 2.6GW.
Adding to the 433MW already in operation, Argentina's total installed solar PV capacity is now 745MW, or 1% of the country’s power base. Around 2GW of solar PV has been contracted in recent years – through government tenders and the non-regulated market – as the country moves to meet a legally-set target of 20% renewable power supply by 2025.
Located at 4,000 metres altitude on the Andean foothills of the Jujuy province, the Cauchari complex is now poised to be expanded by another 200MW as soon as the contract with the national grid operator CAMMESA is signed.
“The only part missing is the signature of the contract with CAMMESA … the [national energy secretary] set a price of $52.1 per MWh. So everything is ready, as soon as the contract is signed in the coming weeks I will send my people to the Chinese Eximbank,”says Gerardo Morales, the provincial governor, indicating that the next stage would be ready in four years.
Cauchari was built by Chinese utilities Powerchina and Shanghai Electric in partnership with provincial power group Jemse. It sold power at the the Round 1 tender in 2016 for $60 per MWh.
Additionally, Morales announced two more projects. The first, also with a possible partnership with Power China and financing from the Chinese Eximbank, is a 500kV line which he says will allow Jujuy to develop 1GW of new solar capacity in the region. Without the transmission line, says Morales, only another 200MW can be built in the province.
He also announced negotiations with local financial institutions, the French international development agency AFD and the European Investment Bank to build smaller solar plants adding up to 96MW that will increase the power supply to offtakers in the province.