Hybrid Wind-Diesel System in Chorriaca, Argentina

 

Location: Chorriaca, Neuquén, Argentina

Type:
  • Wind

Status: Commissioned in 2013

Project Leader: Duke Energy

Key results

  • A hybrid 75 kW wind (3 x 25kW) – diesel (120kW) power plant generating on average 226,000 kWh per year
  • Innovative hybrid system design optimizes wind energy production (44% penetration factor) and uses the diesel generator more efficiently as a supplement when needed
  • Provides affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to a remote Patagonian community that previously had limited access to electricity
  • Displaces the use of diesel, providing fuel savings of around 68,500 USD per year and a reduction in CO2 emissions
  • Generated fuel savings from this project and its sister microhydro project in Cochico will be reinvested into developing other similar renewable energy projects in surrounding off-grid villages by the provincial government

Location: Chorriaca, Neuquén, Argentina

Type:
  • Wind

Status: Commissioned in 2013

Project Leader: Duke Energy

In 2013, we inaugurated a hybrid wind-diesel system in the village of Chorriaca, Argentina, providing residents with access to uninterrupted electricity for the first time. The wind-diesel hybrid system has an installed capacity of 195 kW: three 25 kW wind turbines and a 120 kW diesel generator operate together with a hybrid generation control system. The system generates on average 226,000 kWh per year.

A remote off-grid village in the Patagonian outback, Chorriaca used to rely on a conventional and inefficient diesel generator for its electricity. Not only did this system provide sporadic power for limited periods of time, it also caused substantial noise pollution and residents suffered from electricity shortages due to lack of fuel.

With the new hybrid system, cleaner, reliable, and affordable electricity is available to local residents. The system optimizes wind energy production and uses diesel as a supplement only when electricity demand is high. Residents are able to cook, light their houses and connect small appliances around the clock. The local health care station now has access to electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as well as Chorriaca’s Primary School Nº 97, which has 84 young students.

During the community outreach activities and the project’s development, residents highlighted the impact that stable electricity access would have on not only improving their quality of living, but also helping preserve their indigenous Mapuche culture. Reliable electricity access will increase the potential for new economic activities, which will minimize the emigration of the younger generations, who often leave to look for job opportunities elsewhere.

One of our key objectives was to help promote the scaling up of renewable energy projects in the region, which is in line with national and provincial interests to develop renewable energy generation. The local utility and distribution company, Ente Provincial de Energial Del Neuquén (EPEN), will use the fuel savings generated by this system (calculated at approximately 68,500 USD per year) and its sister microhydro project in Cochico to develop new renewable energy projects in the region. We transferred the ownership of the wind-diesel hybrid system to EPEN in 2015. In addition, the sharing of technical know-how and experience from these projects will help build capacities for the development, operation and maintenance of similar systems in isolated towns within the province of Neuquén and in Argentina.

"For all of us, this is a highly anticipated project. It is essential for our Mapuche community because Chorriaca must continue to grow. From now on, we, as citizens, will continue to support our community as much as we can. Many children are being raised in this community, and we look forward to a better future for them. When I arrived at Chorriaca in 1987, there was an electrical generator that only generated power from 8 am to 12 pm. and from 7 pm to 12 am. Today the situation is completely different. Today, more work can be created. This is already a reality and not just words. As a result of this, Chorriaca will grow even more. Thank you to the people who worked on this project and to the companies that participated in it."

José Burnes, President of the Chorriaca Development Commission

Participating members and partners

  • Duke Energy
  • American Electric Power (AEP)
  • Enel
  • Hydro-Québec
  • RusHydro
  • RWE
  • Neuquén Provincial Government
  • Ente Provincial de Energía del Neuquén
  • Chorriaca Development Commission
  • Quilapi Mapuche community and Chorriaca residents
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