Duke Energy, partners to build renewable energy fueled microgrid in Argentina villages

Duke Energy International, a unit of Duke Energy, is developing renewable energy projects in Argentina. The project will generate energy for two small towns without connecting them to the nation's power grid — establishing a smart microgrid that runs on renewable energy.

From this microgrid project, Duke Energy expects to gain some technical information that could be applied in other projects involving smart grid technology.

Duke Energy will spend about $2 million to build a small hydroelectric dam (65 kW) and a 75 kW wind project. The other $2 million it will take to build the project was contributed by a consortium that includes the American Electric Power Co., Germany's RWE Group, Canada's HydroQuebec, Russia's state utility RusHydro and Italy's Enel Green Power SPA. The international group calls itself the Global Sustainable Energy Partnership.

The project should be completed by the end of May 2013. Duke Energy will operate the project's facilities for two years before handing it over to the local power company.

Duke Energy already has a presence in Argentina with about 423 MW of hydropower and natural gas generation in the country, as well as a larger portfolio in Central and South America.

The small hydro project will power a 300-person village named Cochico, which currently has no electricity, in Argentina's Neuquen province. The village of Chorriaca, home to about 500 locals, will be the site of the wind project. One built, the wind power facility will be Duke's first in Latin America.

Duke Energy estimates that the wind blows so consistently in Chorriaca that wind turbines built there will be enough to provide baseload power.

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