Argentina extends MiniRen renewables tender by two months

Even as Argentina tries to restart its wider renewables programme, it postponed its latest tender for 350MW of wind and solar – known as MiniRen – by two months to the end of May after making several changes to the rules.

The decision comes as the government restarted tendering of a key transmission line earlier this month, and with the energy ministry reportedly talking about a fourth renewables procurement round, raising hopes that large-scale procurement is set to ramp back up.

The MiniRen tender was announced in late 2018 as way to keep the RenovAr renewable energy programme ticking over after recent wind and solar contracts took up all the country’s available transmission capacity. The larger, regulated market tenders are the key to Argentina increasing its non-hydro renewable energy capacity fourfold to 20% by 2025.

MiniRen was designed to contract small wind and solar projects – with 10MW capacity each – connected to medium- and low-tension grid links, a fraction of the volume procured in the first two rounds of RenovAr, which contracted 2.5GW of wind and 1.7GW of solar.

The technical changes made in MiniRen involve modification of required bid-bonds and raises investors’ risk in the contracts with the country’s national grid operator, Cammesa.

Other amendments take into account the technology used by investors, such as permission for wind projects to reach 13.5MW of capacity, up from 10MW, as most of the turbine platforms sold in Argentina are of the 3.XMW variety.

“Although some of the changes make it easier for the bids to be prepared, it is convenient to extend the deadline for the presentation of the bids to allow complete analysis of the changes made,” the government said.

This means that PPAs will be signed by the end of July, instead of the previous schedule of the end of May.

Earlier this week, the national director of renewable energy, Maximiliano Morrone, was reported by local press as saying that if the programme to contract new transmission lines is successful, Round 4 of RenovAr “is a lot closer”.

Morrone, however, reiterated that the focus for now is on the transmission line tender.