Argentina consolidated as a leader in renewable power

Argentina is at the forefront in biofuel research with corn grain, a new but promising industry

The future lies in renewable energies. Oil prices and growing concern with regards to global warming are encouraging new initiatives. Generating fuels from cereal grains and oilseeds crop has become the answer, according to Argentinians.

The Southern country stands out for being at the forefront of the new but promising biofuel industry. The government, companies, universities, researchers: all sectors have joined this crusade.

Corn as an energy source

Alternative energies are being developed on par with technological development for plant breeding. Argentine specialists are investigating the characteristics and components of the corn grain and biomass that have an effect on bioethanol performance.

The study is being coordinated by the National Institute of Agricultural Technology of Balarce. It is supported by experts from the University of Buenos Aires and the National University of Northwestern Buenos Aires.

Guillermo Eyherabide, who coordinates the National Cereal and Oilseed Program of INTA Pergamino highlighted Argentina’s potential in terms of bioethanol production from corn grain. “It is a reality that consumes more than one million tons a year,” he explained. Additionally, it also adds value and creates jobs. At the same time, it reduces the need to import liquid fuels for vehicles and machinery.

The biofuel industry is using corn grain obtained from hybrid cultivars. Said grains are selected in accordance to yield per hectare and tolerance to stress factors, both biotic and abiotic. “But so far, they have not been selected specifically for energy generation purposes,” Eyherabide warned.

High potential

Eyherabide insisted on the importance of analyzing the crop’s potential for bioethanol production. We must “expand our knowledge of ethanol’s most relevant characteristics, genetic correlation matrix, and performance predictability based on the hybrid’s parental lines.”

According to the researcher, access to this information will enable to define an ideotype of corn for ethanol production. This way, it would be better adjusted to local conditions. Simultaneously, it would contribute to making better decisions in the programs aimed at improving the seed industry.

These advances would enable to develop a new generation of cultivars especially made for the liquid biofuel market. The most important factor is that this would not be detrimental for the good yield per hectare factor, he added.

Santa Fe invests on urban transport initiative

Argentina is investing in clean energies, working in different fields across the entire national territory. In November, the city of Rosario inaugurated the country’s first solar-powered electric bus, as part of a project focused on urban transportation. It also includes productive sectors linked to biodiesel and bioethanol.

Santa Fe will also become the first province to organize a renewable power auction. This project intends to focus on two parallel sites – one located in the northwest and one in the south. This initiative will entail an investment of $60 million. The amount will be distributed in ten projects with a total capacity of 50 MW (5 percent of what Empresa Provincial de Energía – EPE – distributed across the nation).

The regions were not randomly selected. These areas have stood out for deficiencies in the service. This is why the support provided by solar panels and wind turbines will be significant.

For more information, check Energía16  

See also: U.S. solar power industry affected by Trump’s tax measures

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