Argentina expects $1.8 billion investment from renewable energy auction

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina expects investment of $1.8 billion from 17 renewable energy projects awarded in an auction to generate 1,109 megawatts of power, the government said on Friday, as it tries to lessen dependence on imported power.

Argentine and international companies are among the winners, with Spanish companies Isolux Corsan SA and FieldFare earning a solar contract and China’s Envision Energy winning four wind contracts.

The projects are meant to increase the percentage of national power production from renewable sources to 8 percent of the total next year from 1.8 percent currently.

“We’ll be at about 5 percent of the goal we have established,” Undersecretary of Renewable Energy Sebastian Kind told a news conference.

The average winning price was $59.40 per megawatt hour and $59.70 per megawatt hour for solar.

Argentina received a total of 123 project bids in September, but said on Friday it awarded 17. Of those, 12 are wind, four solar and one biogas. The government received some bids for hydroelectric and biomass projects but did not accept them.

The government has said it aims to stop importing light crude oil this year as it moves toward energy self-efficiency. The country has been running an energy deficit since 2011 and investment in its Vaca Muerta shale fields has been slow to arrive.

Several Latin American countries are turning their attention to renewable energy. In August neighboring Chile awarded contracts to supply power for two decades from the 2020s.

Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi, Nicolas Misculin and Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Lisa Shumaker