Patagonia, the land of gigantic fossils and oil,
also has winds whose
force and constancy are unique in the world – a magnet
for eolic energy and the motor
of research into the storage of
this intermittent generation
Alongside Vaca Muerta, one
of the biggest deposits of unconventional oil and gas in the
world, Argentina also houses
its “Vaca Muerta of wind” down
south, according to experts.
“In recent years Argentina
has experienced a frantic boom
in renewable energy,” the engineer Maximiliano Morrone,
director of the Renewable
Energy Department at the
Energy Secretariat, told AFP.
In the arid Patagonian steppes at a latitude of around 42
degrees south of the Equator,
the wind blows at an annual
average of 12 metres per second.
Argentina “is considered an
eolic granary in terms of its
winds and the parks coming
on-stream with a unique yield
at world level,” says Morrone
as he tallies 56 undertakings,
most of them private companies.
Argentina ranks fifth in the
Americas in eolic production
although its total renewable
energy, including solar and biofuels, represent 11 percent of its
energy grid with its accelerated
growth promising to reach 15
percent next year and 20 percent in 2025, according to the
objectives outlined by the promotion law approved in 2015.
the growth presents challenges. The grids transporting
electrical energy are currently working at 98 percent
of their capacity and the projects for their expansion face
an unfavourable cyclical context with the economy in recession and the uncertainty
surrounding the October 27
To bolster these investments,
Argentina has promoted
20-year contracts with a system of guarantees backed by
the World Bank, adjudicating
some 2,400 megawatts.
Science is seeking to resolve the intermittence of these
energy sources. Argentine research is world-class, chemical engineer Fabiana Gennari
Gennari heads a team of the
Conicet scientific research
council, which seeks to develop
“cells” or batteries capable of
storing renewable energy in
the form of hydrogen, a project
for which she won a UNESCO
prize in 2016.
“We developed hydrogen storage which is safe on the basis
of a solid material which acts
as a sponge, incorporating the
hydrogen to release it later,”
explained Gennari from her
The oscillations in wind or
solar energy are thus overcome
to maintain constant the electric tension delivered by the
Hydrogen storage is already
a reality in the auto industry –
Germany, Japan, the United
States and South Korea all proAFP
duce hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.
The hydrogen can be produced via fossil fuels such as gas
but in that case it emits carbon
so that its use makes no economic or environmental sense.
Gennari’s team has experimented with generation via
agricultural waste but that is
a process also requiring a solution for carbon dioxide
One possibility which has
been explored is its conversion into gas for reuse at industrial level.
For the last decade and
thanks to the excellent Patagonian winds, a unique hydrogen
production plant based on eolic
energy has been functioning in
Comodoro Rivadavia under the
There it uses renewable energy to separate the molecules of
oxygen and hydrogen from
water via electric catalysts.
The first is marketed at high
pressure to industry and the
second is injected via a hydrogenoduct to exhausted natural
The plant, just 20 kilometres
outside Comodoro Rivadavia,
obtains oxygen and hydrogen
of high purity.
“This is the most important
private development of hydrogen via wind energy,” affirmed
Morrone, pointing to the data
obtained in relation to the possibility of storage in gas wells
having “aroused the attention
of the international scientific