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Argentina blackout highlights infrastructure deficit

Following the massive power disruption that crippled the Argentinian power systems, Ankit Mathur, practice head of power at data and analytics company GlobalData, offers his view on Argentina’s power industry.

According to Mathur, the power outage uncovered the decrepit state of power infrastructure in Argentina and with a growing population and increasing urbanisation surge the power demand is set to rise in the country.

The power blackout, which occurred on Sunday at around 7am local time, affected over 50 million people, and raised questions about the stability and security of the power infrastructure in Argentina.  

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The extent of the blackout affected neighbouring Uruguay and spilt over to Paraguay, Chile and Brazil due to the interconnectivity of these countries’ power grids.

Mathur advised: “In order to deal with such power interruptions, it is crucial that the country invests heavily in electricity network expansion.

“The revamp of the age-old infrastructure and transformation of the power generating sources to clean energy technologies must be aided with the technological advancements for faster acceleration.”

Infrastructure partnerships can avert power blackout

Two years ago, Argentina had proposed a plan with the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model to infuse investments to revamp the country’s ageing infrastructure.

“Unfortunately, the deepening economic crisis amid high inflation, high-interest rate and weakened local currency brought the infrastructure projects to a halt,” said Mathur. 

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He added: “The Argentinian government’s PPP programme included 60 projects for implementation spanning across major infrastructure and social sectors including energy, transport and mining.”

PPP projects for energy and power included public lighting replacement to LED lights and construction of 3,300kms of new high-voltage electric transmission lines. “These upcoming transmission projects will help reduce the limited grid availability issue faced by the generators.”

Charlie Farrow, managing director of Welland Generators, UK also commented that due to limited availability of the grid, generators are required in so many areas as the primary source of power.”

Farrow added: “Environmentally this is probably one of the worst ways to generate power – diesel generators are much better in standby applications. It also increase the need for foreign exchange to fund the importation of such equipment and associated spares for the main generator components. Long term, renewables are the answer to the power issues in Argentina.

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Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.