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Argentina adds wind to energy portfolio

BUENOS AIRES, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Argentina is adding new turbines to its wind farms in Patagonia as part of a government strategy to prepare for increased energy consumption in line with economic recovery in the coming years.

A total of 43 new Danish turbines bought for the wind farms in Patagonia will help generate more than 320 gigawatt hours of electricity a year and reduce Argentina's burden of carbon dioxide emissions by at last 100,000 tons a year, officials said.

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Earlier this month Argentina announced plans to expand its nuclear energy program, a move that raised security concerns because of Buenos Aires' sovereignty claims over the British-ruled Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic and maritime tensions over the dispute.

An Argentine military assault on the islands in 1982 triggered the Falklands War, resulting in about 1,000 deaths. Argentina's government has put its military's official surrender in the conflict behind it and renewed claims over the islands.

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Argentina has been punishing merchant vessels that trade with the Falklands, denying them access to its ports until they pledge to obey its ban on Falklands-bound shipping.

Aside from the continuing attrition over the Falkands, Buenos Aires argues it needs to prepare for an upsurge in energy demand as economic activity builds up and that it wants to explore all available options.

The turbines will be supplied by Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems, the company announced. The V90 1.8 megawatt wind turbines will be mounted in the Rawson I wind farm and Rawson II wind farm complex on the outskirts of Rawson in Chubut province.

Rawson began as a settlement populated by Welsh immigrants in the 1860s and still is the smaller of the towns in Argentine Patagonia, where Welsh-speaking communities maintain ancestral links with Britain.

Officials said they expected the wind farm project to be completed by 2012. Vestas will be responsible for the delivery, transportation, installation, commissioning and maintenance of the wind turbines.

Details of the financing of the deal weren't immediately clear but the order for the turbines was placed by Emgasud S.A., an Argentine company providing services for power generation, distribution and transportation of natural gas. Emgasud is the largest investor in renewable energy projects in Argentina.

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"Emgasud is fully committed to contributing to the diversification of Argentina's energy mix and to continuously protect the environment," said Alejandro Ivanisevich, president of Emgasud S.A.

He said the company would continue to invest in the latest technology for the development of renewable energy projects in the country.

"We are confident that the technology, the products and the solutions acquired from Vestas for our wind power plants in Rawson will allow us to meet the highest standards and quality requirements," he said.

Vestas, meanwhile, is hoping the Argentine project will open new wind energy markets in Latin America. "Dear world, our new wind turbine is for all 6,867,294,312 of you," the company says on its Web site, citing August 2010 global population figures.

"This new project in Argentina represents one step ahead in our current expansion in Latin America," said Juan Araluce, president of Vestas Mediterranean. "We hope this is the beginning of a long-term relationship with a company that is deeply committed to the development of wind energy and renewable energy, in general."

The stipulated annual production of electricity from the wind farms will correspond to the current annual residential electricity consumption of 150,000 households in Argentina, officials said.

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