Argentina takes wind power to villages

ARGENTINA - Argentina is building wind-power capacity to electrify villages steeped in poverty and underdevelopment as part of a project funded by the World Bank.

Argentina was badly hit by the financial crisis of 2008 and before that suffered a series of economic setbacks due to disputes between the government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and farmers and workers.

Argentina has been slow to emerge from the crisis while its neighbors, particularly Chile and Brazil, are well on the road to economic recovery. This year Fernandez renewed contacts with the International Monetary Fund as part of an effort to get the country back into the capital markets.

The wind-power project is led by Helix Wind Corp., a global renewable energy company based in San Diego, but is financed by the World Bank.

Helix said it will collaborate with Argentine distributor EDAL RE Inc.

in Buenos Aires to provide 90 to 100 wind turbines as part of an estimated $9.5 million rural electrification program. It is an off-grid generation project centered in Jujuy in the extreme northwest on the borders with Chile and Bolivia.

Although mainly rural, backward Jujuy has minimal agriculture and subsists on small industry. Officials hope greater accessibility to electric power will bring some basic comforts to the inhabitants and help industrial development.

Starting in February 2010, EDAL RE will install 15 kilowatt power islands combining photovoltaic arrays and Helix Wind S594 vertical axis wind turbines to replace 2.3 megawatts of fossil — mainly diesel — thermal generation.

Argentina received the funding as part of the World Bank's Renewable Energy in the Rural Market Project.

EDAL RE Director Javier Wolcoff said, "Wind turbines are the perfect complement to the project's solar arrays since the most predominant winds in the high desert occur once the sun goes down."

He said the project chose Helix Wind because it offers "a robust, reliable turbine that can withstand the brutal northwest Argentinean winds, is easy to install in remote locations and requires little to no maintenance."

EDAL RE is the first company in the region to sign a distributorship agreement with Helix Wind and plans to expand Helix Wind power in other parts of South America and Netherlands Antilles.

"Not only are we excited about the prospect of replacing diesel generators with clean, renewable energy," said Fernando Frias, minister of planning, development and infrastructure of Jujuy, "but we are also proud to be bringing advanced technologies to remote places in our province."


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