Argentina suspends RE auctions

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The Argentinian government will not hold the planned fourth round of the Renovar program for large-scale renewable energy projects this year or in 2019. Marcelo Álvarez, from local renewable energy industry body Cámara Argentina de Energías Renovables (CADER) confirmed the news to pv magazine.

According to the Crónica newspaper, the government said grid constraints and difficult financing conditions may raise prices in the next bidding round. The utility-scale renewable market however, will receive a further push over the next two years from the private PPA segment, the government claims. The newspaper article reports that, through this plan, the Argentinian Ministry of Energy and Mines hopes to “clean the market” while waiting for several big solar and wind projects – selected in previous RenovAr bidding rounds – to be connected.

The private PPA segment, which is seeing deals closed between power producers and energy-intensive industrial clients, may not be enough however, to ensure the same levels of growth – at least in terms of developed projects.

In a recent interview with pv magazine the head of Argentinian power provider SAESA – Juan Bosch – revealed private PPAs with a combined capacity of 200 MW may have been signed already this year. “In the country there are 2,300 companies that could decide to buy energy through this kind of contract. Much will depend, however, on how the rules are improved for this [to] work”, he said.

The new rules were introduced in August 2017. “However the procedures and requirements, as well as the excessive public control in the contracting, are still factors that prevent more PPAs from being closed in this initial phase in Argentina,” added Mr. Bosch.

Under the first three rounds of the RenovAr program the Argentinian government approved 1.7 GW of solar projects. In the last of the three auctions, the lowest price for solar was $40.4/MWh with the highest and average prices $52.3/MWh and $43.5/MWh, respectively.