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Argentina joins hands with China in developing clean energy

BUENOS AIRES, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Argentina, whose energy trade deficit stands at 8 billion U.S. dollars per year, has joined hands with China to develop renewable energy ranging from hydro and nuclear power to wind and solar power.

If renewable energy takes one more percentage point in the country's total energy supply, 500 million U.S. dollars spenting on energy importation will be saved, according to the country's Renewable Energy Association.

HYDROPOWER BENEFITS 1.5 MILLION HOMES

Two dams, named after President Nestor Kirchner and governor Jorge Cepernic, are being built along the Santa Cruz river, over 2,750km to the south of Buenos Aires. Those projects were made possible by the assistance of Chinese engineers and machinery, as part of the two countries' growing partnership.

In and around the worksite, it has become commonplace to see trucks, machinery and cranes stamped with Chinese brands such as Sany.

The two dams reportedly have a planned construction investment of 4.714 billion U.S. dollars.

This will cover the arrival in Argentina of Chinese experts and engineers, who will oversee the design, installation, operation and maintenance of heavy machinery key to the project.

"The first heavy machinery imported from China reached the work site on August 19. We are now setting this machinery up and training the local technicians as to their use," explained Zhi Cheng, a Chiense engineer working on the dams, told Xinhua.

More boatloads of equipment will soon arrive, with concreting equipment, turbines, and floodgates all set to be brought over from China in the near future.

The dams, which are set to generate 6,000 direct and 1,000 indirect jobs during their construction phase, will generate an estimated 5,000 GWh a year and will supply energy for over 1.5 million homes, according to Argentinean government.

At the operation of the projects, 1.2 billion U.S. dollars spenting on importing fuels will be saved and the cost of industrial electricity will be lowered by six percent, according to Argentina's research institute on energy, technoloy and infrastructure development.

NUCLEAR POWER TO BE DOUBLED

Nuclear energy cooperation with China plays a key role in guaranteeing Argentina's energy security and independence, according to the state-run nuclear energy company, Nucleoelectrica Argentina (NA-SA).

During Argentine President Cristina Kirchner's visit to China in February 2015, the two countries signed an agreement on jointly building two nuclear plants in Argentina.

Argentina currently has three operational nuke power plants with a combined capacity of 1,755 MW, which use technology from Germany and Canada. The two new plants, with a total output of 1,800 MW, will therefore double the country's nuclear power capacity.

Under the agreement, the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) will partner with the NA-SA to build the two nuclear reactors. The CNNC will contribute technology, equipment and services, and offer Argentina 70 percent of the funds and services needed for the project.

This will be the first time for China to export nuclear technology to Latin America and the Chinese company is optimistic about the prospects of its technology exports, thanks to its higher safety level and lower costs, the CNNC said on its website.

"Undoubtedly, these nuclear projects we are developing with China will play a fundamental role in securing our energy independence," the NA-SA spokesperson said.

In addition to nuclear and hydropower, China has been playing an important role in other clean energy sector such as wind, by offering key technology and funds.

Arauco Wind Farm, Argentina's largest wind farm, is the showcase of the Sino-American wind power development endeavor.

Earlier this year, Chinese company Hydorchina International Engineering Co signed a deal with the local La Rioja Province government worth of more than 300 million U.S. dollars to raise Arauco Wind Farm's installed capacity by 104 more megawatts.

"In Argentina, the energy matrix is mainly composed of derivatives of oil and to a lesser extent of coal, hydraulic and nuclear energy. This makes the relative cost of energy fluctuate based on the quantity of fuel available. If we don't have it then we need to import it with a constant flight of capital to balance the matrix," said Juan Fernando Carbel, president of Arauco Wind Farm.

Renewing this matrix is supposed to reduce the flight of capital and help the environment by collaborating to avoid the emission of carbon dioxide gas, said Carbel.

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