The importance of gas and hydraulic energy towards a sustainable matrix

Conventional or “non-renewable” thermal generation, that is, those sources that use fossil fuels to generate electricity, even according to most of the Argentine electrical production matrix. The main disadvantage of these processes is that they cause greenhouse gas emissions.

However, in a scenario of global, regional and local need for carbon neutrality and energy transition, natural gas becomes a strategic piece to meet the growing demand and strengthen the passage between the different types of generation.

The importance of this hydrocarbon lies in the fact that offers a series of benefits in electrical production processes. In the first place, by causing fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to other fuels for conventional use, it becomes a more attractive route towards a future where access to affordable, safe, sustainable and modern energy is guaranteed, recognizing that this would considerably reduce the risks and effects of climate change.

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Its second strong point has to do with availability, as is the case in Argentina, where this resource continues to show promising signs of abundance. In that direction projects like a dead cow are advancing, a deposit in which the production of this hydrocarbon recently multiplied by three and which in the short term will have the first stage of the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline that will expand the transport capacity to consumption centers.

A third advantage of the use of gas in electricity production processes is its application in combined cycle generation plants, those that allow to obtain a greater amount of energy, with the same fuel as the traditional thermal generation with yields that oscillate between 50% and 60%. In the last 30 years, the construction and development of this type of plants has grown with certainty.

In order to deepen the coexistence between traditional and renewable sources, with gas as a beacon in this transition stage aimed at carbon neutrality, it is urgent renew the momentum to carry out projects of this kind, such as the Manuel Belgrano II combined cycle plant in the province of Buenos Aires.

A fourth benefit is the important role played by gas turbines in the electrical network, since they provide critical reserve energy when renewable energies are at reduced levels, and are also cheaper than modern storage sources.

One last aspect of gas turbines, but no less important, is that both in simple and combined cycle they will be 100% hydrogen ready by 2030.

Investment in works

Likewise, it is pertinent to value the contribution of another source such as hydraulics, which is both renewable and stable. It is convenient continue betting on the investment destined to works within the sector, as is currently the case in Patagonia, where the development of the Santa Cruz River Hydroelectric Exploitation project is advancing. This consists of the construction and commissioning of the President Néstor Kirchner and Governor Jorge Cepernic hydroelectric plants. Together they will contribute 11% more hydroelectric generation power to the national matrix and will contribute a 5% increase in total installed power to said matrix.

There are also other projects in clear progress such as the hydroelectric exploitation of the Aña Cua arm in the Yacyretá power plant which will allow the average annual generation and current power to be increased by 9%. And finally, there are also projects such as the Chihuido I multipurpose exploitation, in Neuquén, and Portezuelo del Viento in Mendoza; projects that in the future will strengthen the system through clean and renewable energy.

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This is how, together, the current role of gas as an energy transition resource and the hydroelectric, wind and solar projects they make it possible to consolidate the renewable contribution and contribute to reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment.

The goal is, in the long term, operate on the basis of combining low or zero emissions with the objective of achieving climate neutrality. Our country is following the right path, however, the demand for energy increases year after year due to the natural growth of the population, the increase in the use of electricity in homes and economic activities, and the temperature variations that are required. This puts the limit of the different generation plants existing in Argentina.

it is urgent specify and activate the different projects to provide a quick response to the demands for energy consumption in our country, and also provide a sustainable energy supply to export to a world that needs clean energy in a growing and immediate way.

*President of Eling Energía


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