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Cochico and Chorriaca are small communities in the province of Neuquén in the Patagonian region of Argentina. Both isolated from the national grid, they rely on diesel units that operate on a discontinuous basis for their electricity.
|Alhueco Creek, the site of the Cochico microhydropower plant||Team checking wind mast near Chorriaca|
This project aims to provide these communities with access to a sustainable electricity service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, using local renewable energy sources. The project features the design and installation of a 65 kW microhydro facility in Cochico and a 75 kW wind - 120 kW diesel hybrid plant in Chorriaca.
In line with national and provincial interests to develop renewable generation in general, and wind energy in particular, this project will not only contribute to the communities’ social and economic development, it will also displace a portion of the diesel currently used, thereby reducing CO2 emissions and leading to fossil fuel savings.
Furthermore, this project will provide a pilot experience for the development of renewable energy in isolated communities, on the basis of selected locally available technology. The transfer of technical know-how and experience will also help build human capacity for the development, operation and maintenance of the selected systems in these communities. Such experience could be repeated in a number of similar towns within the province of Neuquén and others in Argentina that are isolated from the main grid.
Following the launch of the implementation of the project, the team was in Argentina in April 2012 to meet with public stakeholders. Our visit was featured in the local press (in Spanish, other stories also available).
The groundbreaking ceremonies for the Chorriaca and Cochico projects took place on December 5, 2012 and December 6, 2012, respectively. The ceremonies were attended by the Neuquén province governor, leaders of the region’s indigenous communities, representatives from the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP) and Duke Energy (the project leader for the projects), and several families of the beneficiary communities. (Read the news release)
The Chorriaca Wind-Diesel Hybrid system was inaugurated in December 2013. Chorriaca’s lonko, the Mapuche community chief, the town’s residents, the provincial government, and GSEP representatives attended the ceremony.
The replication potential of both projects is high and El Ente Provincial de Energia del Neuquén (EPEN), the state entity, is committed to reinvest the generated fuel savings of these projects in similar renewable energy projects throughout the Province of Neuquén. By providing a pilot experience, these projects can be the catalyst for change in other isolated communities.
|Download the Argentina Patagonia Renewable Energy Projects Publication|