Solar scores lowest average prices in Argentina’s smaller-scale tender

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(Credit: Minem Solar)

Solar has emerged as the overall cheapest technology in Argentina’s latest clean energy tender, aimed at smaller-scale installations.

PV winners of the so-called MiniRen auction were contracted at average tariffs of US$57.59/MWh, narrowly outcompeting the US$58.04/MWh scored by wind projects.

The results of the July tender – released this week by Argentina’s Energy Ministry – show 96.75MW worth of contracts was granted to solar, down from initial bidding PV volumes of 128MW.

All in all, the MiniRen tender awarded contracts to a 259.08MW roster of renewable technologies including solar and wind but also biomass, biogas and small hydro power.

Overall, 38 projects across all clean energy power sources secured auction support, out of 52 preselected schemes. PV’s final 13 winners were chosen from an 18-strong group of applicants.

Part of Argentina’s RenovAr programme, the auction was open to 0.5-10MW schemes, although some wind bidders were allowed to bid for a maximum of 13.5MW.

Eight of the 13 solar contracts went to projects of 9MW capacity or more. All 13 winning projects are planned for development in northern and western provinces including Mendoza and Salta.

Despite PV’s lowest average tariff of US$57.59/MWh, the cheapest project on an individual basis – a 12.6MW, US$52.5/MWh scheme in the Córdoba province – was put forward by a wind developer.  

Winners from all technologies will benefit from 20-year, US$-denominated power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Argentina’s power market administrator CAMMESA.

Once up and running, the prevailing 38 schemes are expected to unlock a combined US$368-plus million in investment, 1,000 new jobs and enough power to cover the needs of 250,000 households.  

According to the Ministry, a further 12 failed to line up auction PPAs but will be offered support under separate renewable supply deals, including with government clean energy fund FODER.

The government did not provide a technology breakdown for the 12 unsuccessful renewable applicants, explaining however all 12 had put forward 62.75MW in projects.

Argentina’s smaller-scale auction comes as the country witnesses solar growth on the utility-scale end, with Canadian Solar linking 100MW Cafayate as others working to build 600MW Cauchari.

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