Argentina's president Mauricio Macri on Monday said the joint Argentina-China hydropower megaproject is highly important and emblematic in terms of renewable energy and economic development. Macri made the remarks during his first official visit to the construction site of the project, where two hydroelectric dams, Condor Cliff and La Barrancosa, are being erected along the Santa Cruz River in Patagonia to boost national energy output.
The visit was part of a wider swing through southern Argentina's Patagonian provinces of Tierra del Fuego, Santa Cruz and Chubut, where the president reviewed progress in several public works, including the dams, which are expected to expand Argentina's total electric energy capacity by more than 6%.
I am pleased to be here right now because these dams represent a lot to Santa Cruz. It is a highly important emblematic project, and I think it is a relief to all residents of Santa Cruz to see the companies pick up momentum, said Macri.
The truth is that this project is going to mark a turning point for Patagonia, for Argentina ... it is going to generate energy for 1.5 million homes, renewable energy, in a province that is slated to become a leading player in renewable energy, he said.
Something that is very central to a country is having energy. Without energy, a country cannot develop ... that is why we are prioritizing this project, which is additionally renewable energy, Macri said.
Engineering and construction giant China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC) is spearheading the hydropower project, which is expected to create 5,000 direct and 15,000 indirect jobs once complete.
When the dams are completed, Argentina will be able to generate an additional 4.95 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and improving its energy structure. Annual savings from imported fuel will reach 1.1 billion U.S. dollars, according to Gezhouba's estimates.
The project is poised to help drive growth and development regionally and nationally by upgrading Argentina's energy sector, underlined Macri.
La Barrancosa will be equipped with three propeller-style Kaplan turbines able to generate an average of 1,782 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year, while Condor Cliff will feature five Francis turbines able to produce an average of 3,167 GWh a year.
The dams in Santa Cruz province represent Argentina's third largest hydroelectric complex after Yacyreta and Salto Grande, he noted, and will make Santa Cruz the country's second largest producer of electric energy.