21. März 2022
First Climate announces the launch of two pilot solar photovoltaic projects in Argentina which will offer a reliable, cost-efficient energy supply. The projects have been co-developed by First Climate, with local partner institutions HINS Energía and Soventix under the Swiss government’s REPIC platform and show the potential for decentralized renewable energy solutions in rural Argentina.
First Climate co-develops two pilot community-based solar parks
Community Solar Power for 100 Households in Rural Argentina
Over the past two years, the Oncativo and Arroyo Cabral solar parks were developed as greenfield projects based on Community Distributed Generation (CDG); a model that allows local consumers to generate their own energy and to financially participate from the operational revenues of the project.
“This approach is special because for the first time, end-users become co-generators in the form of a cooperative,” says Yves Keller, Head of Portfolio Management for Compliance Markets, and responsible for the project on the side of First Climate. “This community-based approach is already pursued in many European countries, including Switzerland and Germany, but is a new concept in Argentina. In fact, Oncativo and Arroyo Cabral are the first solar parks in the country that function this way.”
Community Distributed Generation as a model for renewable energy supply in rural areas
Before the Oncativo and Arroyo Cabral projects, community distributed generation was not available in Argentina – if a local resident wanted solar energy, they would have had to install their own solar panels on an individual household basis. For many people living in rural areas, such high upfront costs are not feasible. With a Community Distributed Generation project however, a solar power park is installed for the community and feeds the produced renewable energy directly into the local grid. Local end-users can become co-owners by buying shares of solar parks that they can then deduct from their electricity bill. This approach decentralizes the grid and makes this renewable energy option more affordable for rural communities in Argentina.
The president of the cooperative of the Arroyo Cabral solar park, Juan José Peretti, also commented on the project. “The truth is that this project has been unprecedented for us. We are defenders of the environment. Our idea was to be able to do something with solar energy.”
Transforming Argentina's Electricity Sector
The Oncativo and Arroyo Cabral solar parks, implemented by local project developers HINS Energía and Soventix in cooperation with First Climate, have a total of 322 modules that generate between 115,000 and 132,000 kWh electricity for each project. The initiative tackles some of the key challenges that Argentina faces with its electricity supply system, and both projects were co-financed by the Swiss interdepartmental platform REPIC which aims to promote innovative renewable energy projects in developing and transitioning countries.
Firstly, the projects help to diversify the Argentinian energy mix that is still heavily dominated by fossil fuels. Secondly, electricity tariffs in Argentina today are heavily subsidized, burdening public budgets and adding to the country’s fiscal deficit. By providing an alternative model for a decentralized energy supply, the solar power projects enable the reduction of national subsidies for energy.
In addition to this, the community parks promote regional development in the form of energy independence and create incentives for international and local private and public financing. They further benefit rural communities in that they provide local employment opportunities, and reinforce the spirit of the cooperative system, which is crucial in rural areas and small towns.
Córdoba is currently the only province in Argentina that has the legal foundations to develop community-based energy projects. Once these two projects are successfully implemented however, there are plans to reach more rural communities by replicating these projects in other Argentinian provinces, such as Mendoza and Buenos Aires.
The conceptual study and the implementation of these two pilot projects were co-financed by REPIC, the Swiss interdepartmental platform to promote renewable energy as well as energy and resource efficiency in developing and transition countries. The platform is managed and jointly funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE). Since the platform’s launch in 2004, 170 renewable energy projects have been promoted throughout the entire world.