Cañadón León: thriving on winds from the Andes
The Argentine power provider YPF Luz hopes to produce 400 MW of renewable energy by 2020. Of that total, 122 MW are expected from the Cañadón León Wind project, which is currently under development. With Norwegian multinational Equinor now signed on for a 50% stake, the project appears to be picking up speed.
^ A YPF Luz-branded turbine at the Manantiales Behr windfarm.
Article by Daniel Sweet
The Argentine power provider YPF Luz proposed the Cañadón León Wind-project in 2018, one of three projects aimed at raising their renewable energy production to 400 MW by 2020. Located in the far reaches of Patagonia, the Cañadón wind farm, which takes advantage of its barren surroundings, is projected to produce 122 MW of wind energy per year. With geotechnical studies complete, construction began in June 2019.
The project takes its name from the Cañadón León Field, where it is located, in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina. Santa Cruz Province is the least densely populated section of the country, and the Cañadón wind farm benefits from the unobstructed winds that rush from the Andes towards the Atlantic ocean. These strong winds, ideal for harnessing energy, also require specialised turbines capable of withstanding the increased force.
The Cañadón windfarm will use General Electric turbines, model 4.2-117, which were originally developed to operate excellent structural integrity in typhoon-force winds. Each turbine has a nominal power of 4.2 MW, with excellent structural integrity. The turbine towers reach a height of 85m, with a rotor diameter of 117m, and a maximum blade height of 143m.
When complete, the site will consist of 29 turbines, enabling the site to generate enough energy to supply approximately 144,000 homes. An electrical network will connect the park, with substations built for a capacity of 17-25 MW each. These will then link with the Station Transformer (ET) of the wind farm, built within a 1.5-hectare plot.
YPF Luz estimates that the wind farm will prevent the emission of at least 268,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, based on the average output of traditional thermal plants.
Equinor steps in
In a recent development, the Norwegian multinational Equinor announced its participation in the Cañadón-project, with an investment amounting to a 50% stake in the project’s controlling company. Equinor is a wind energy veteran, with three successful wind farms off the coast of the UK currently in operation, and projects in Germany and the United States under development.
The agreement establishes that Equinor will have a 50% stake of Luz del León, the project controlling company, with an equity contribution of USD 30 million. After the subscription and capital integration, YPF Luz and Equinor will jointly control Luz del León, while YPF Luz will be in charge of the operations of the wind farm. After the completion of the works, the wind farm will have a total investment estimated to around USD 190 million.
3D render of the Manantiales Behr wind farm. Source: YPF Luz.
Other windfarm projects
YPF Luz is planning to expand its wind energy production in general, with the Cañadón project being one of three renewable projects either under operation or under development. These projects will enable the company to add around 400 MW of wind energy by 2020, to serve large private users via long-terms contracts. The company is also assessing a strategy to add solar power projects to its power generation portfolios.
Construction of the Manantiales wind farm began in April 2017, and the completed site was inaugurated in October 2018. Located in the province of Chubut, north of Santa Cruz Province, the Manantiales farm is the only YPF Luz site currently contributing to the company’s 2020 renewable goals, with 99 MW produced annually.
The entire wind farm features 30 wind turbines spread over an area of 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres). Through YPF Luz, some USD 200 million has been invested in Manantiales Behr. The site was built with an intended target of offsetting 241,600 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Los Teros windfarm
The Los Teros Wind Farm is to be located in Azul, in the Province of Buenos Aires. Construction is expected to begin in November 2019. Los Teros, which will feature 32 GE wind turbines of 3.83 MW, will have an installed capacity of 742 MW, an estimated capacity factor of ~57% and an extremely high-efficiency level. The wind energy produced in Los Teros may enable the reduction of 5.5 million tons of CO2 emissions in 20 years when compared to the impact of having the same energy produced by a thermal power plant, which is equivalent to the saving of 58.000 m3 of diesel fuel, or 98 million m3 of natural gas.
Los Teros will be the first wind farm that GE will build in the country, through a turnkey contract that includes the installation of wind turbines and the construction of a substation to connect the 132 kV line between Tandil and Olavarría. The wind farm will be constructed over an area of 2450 hectares, 45 km from Azul.