Argentina to directly award 1,740-MW Kirchner-Cepernic hydro complex to expedite completion

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The government of Argentina has announced that it will directly award the contract for the 1,740-MW Kirchner-Cepernic hydro complex to expedite its completion, forgoing public tenders.

Kirchner-Cepernic, in Santa Cruz province, is expected to cost US$5 billion. The ministries of environment and energy are finishing an environmental impact study for the dams to be built. The Nestor Kirchner and Jorge Cepernic projects are to be located about 80 km apart and have capacities of 1,140 MW and 600 MW, respectively. Kirchner is expected to feature a 75-meter-high concrete-faced rockfill dam and Cepernic a 43-meter-high dam.

Work on the dams could resume as soon as September. The Supreme Court of Argentina suspended this work in December 2016 “amidst reports that the federal government did not perform mandatory studies and consultations,” HydroWorld reported.

Argentina also will directly award the 700-MW Atucha III nuclear reactor in Buenos Aires province and a 1,150-MW nuclear reactor in Rio Negro province.

The energy ministry plans to publish a decree of necessity and urgency for the Chinese financing to come in the form of a concessional loan, BNamericas cites Telam as reporting. Concessional loans typically have long grace periods and are “extended on terms substantially more generous than market loans,” according to OECD.

Reportedly the Chinese loans carry interest rates far below what Argentina could secure from commercial lenders, according to Argentine energy minister Juan Jose Aranguren. He says this justifies the decision to eschew a competitive bidding process.

In other news from Argentina, in March 2017 the World Bank approved a $480 million guarantee that will be used to promote private investments into the country’s renewable energy sector, including small hydropower.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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