Argentina Wind Energy Site Modelling
The development of new business opportunities in the Latin American market is an ongoing venture for Kenex. This has primarily been focused within Argentina, where a rapidly growing business relationship has been fostered with Buenos Aires-based company Emprendimientos Energeticos y Desarrollos S.A (EEDSA).
EEDSA are wind industry professionals who have been involved in the renewable energy market in Latin America since the formative years of the sector. EEDSA has participated in numerous projects through the provision of advice and sector investment. Their experience comes from involvement in projects and developments in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean. EEDSA's depth of knowledge in the renewable energy sector and their team of expert practitioners enable them to develop appropriate strategies for project development specific to regions or countries. The principal opportunities for the alliance are centred on the synergy that the combined skills and experience of the two companies brings to identifying new renewable energy opportunities in the region. EEDSA's knowledge of wind energy and the Latin America market has given Kenex the opportunity to tailor its wind prospecting system to best meet the requirements of the South American renewable energy market.
One of the key parameters for wind farm developments in Argentina and Latin America is the distance from an available grid connection. A threshold has been determined whereby those prospective areas further than the threshold distance from a transmission line of 132 or more Kv are considered uneconomic. Therefore, only the areas within this buffer have been chosen as a study area for a first broad scale Stage 1 model of Argentina.
Another important factor is elevation which ranges in Argentina from sea level up to over 6,000 meters in the Andes. High terrain increases the construction costs of a wind farm and lowers its overall production, because the density of the air - one of the parameters that determine the wind turbine power curve - is lower at higher altitudes. Profitable wind farms in Argentina are built at heights which ensure the least possible loss of production caused by elevation.
Furthermore, Argentina has a change of wind regime that occurs between the southern provinces of Patagonia and the north. Patagonia has strong, constant wind with a defined prevalent direction from the west, while the northern provinces have a more variable wind regime, with lower average speed and changing prevalent wind directions. For this reason, Kenex has split the Stage 1 model in two regions, Patagonia and the north, using two different wind speed and direction datasets, in order to take into account the variability of the wind and get accurate and reliable results for the entire country.
The results of the Stage 1 models were analysed and ranked by the suitability of the land for wind farm development. This operation lead to the creation of a portfolio of potential projects across the entire country. Using EEDSA's knowledge of the energy market, the higher ranked projects were prioritized and further analysed in more detailed Stage 2 models. This second phase of wind prospecting is divided in two principal steps: The first consists of more detailed investigation of the project areas which includes land accessibility and roughness analyses, and lead to the creation of boundaries for possible wind farms. In the second step we use higher resolution data to conduct specific terrain analyses over the wind farm area that will lead to the design of a preliminary wind turbine layout.
With the preliminary layouts generated in Stage 2 we can then evaluate the probable annual gross production and the capacity of the proposed wind farms, obtaining sufficient information necessary to start a project, and get it ready for more specific environmental, electrical and micro-siting studies, and land access discussions.
To date, Kenex has completed the Stage 1 model for Patagonia and with EEDSA are analysing the results and creating the first pipeline of possible projects in the southern provinces. Some of the targets have already been picked up by the Neuquen province government and EEDSA/Kenex is in the process of helping the government developing a new wind farm in one of the selected areas.