Argentina is on the lookout for builders and operators of a 500kV transmission line meant to shore up the national grid ahead of a planned renewable energy boom.

A tender was launched last week for a new high-voltage line linking the Mendoza and Buenos Aires provinces, to be built and run under a 15-year public-private partnership.

Five secondary links will connect the core transmission line to as many grid subsystems, scattered between the Córdoba, La Pampa, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires provinces.  

The government’s energy department will process bids for the scheme over the next three months, with plans to award contracts by early July 2019.

30 operative projects (795MW) as of February 2019

According to the government, the transmission line is the first of nine high-voltage projects. The grid boost comes as the Argentinian system braces for the large-scale addition of renewables, which under a 2015 law must grow to supply 20% of the country’s needs by 2025.

“In recent times, we’ve worked to diversify our energy mix, with renewables rising significantly. This [transmission line] is an important step to boost our distribution capacity and link production areas with consumer hubs,” state secretary Gustavo Lopetegui said in a statement.

The infrastructure push emerges amid steady growth of Argentinian renewables. Government figures show that as of 28 February, the country was home to 30 operative projects – a third of them PV farms – equal to 795MW in capacity. Once under-construction schemes are factored in, the figures rise to 126 projects representing 4.593GW in joint capacity.

Plans for 400MW third auction this May

The renewable roll-out is being supported through the RenovAr auction scheme. The programme has awarded contracts to 157 projects to date, split between a first (1.142GW, October 2016), an interim (1.28GW, November 2016) and a second round (2.043GW, November 2017).

The third auction round, slated to take place this May, will tender 400MW for 0.5-10MW projects linked to the grid through medium-voltage lines. PV and wind will compete for a joint 350MW basket, with a maximum price of US$60/MWh and caps set at the regional and province level.

See here for more info on the new transmission line, here for the new renewable stats and here for the third auction round

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