Tenaris: investing in a clean and renewable source

The company has developed its first wind farm in Argentina, and Techint E&C is building it to supply 50% of the electricity demand at Tenaris’ Industrial Center in Campana. Four wind turbine generators have already been installed. Ternium will also invest to build another wind farm to source electricity for its Argentine operations.

Currently, the wind farm has 4 installed wind turbine generators.-

The Techint Group is committed to expanding the use of clean and renewable energy sources to supply all its steel plants. To move forward on this pledge, Tenaris is investing over $200 million to build its first wind farm in the world. The project was developed by Tecpetrol, which participated in an auction to obtain the interconnection permit and was awarded the priority to inject 100% of the energy produced by the wind farm into the national electric grid. Tecpetrol later transferred the project to Tenaris, which is now acting as its owner.

Techint E&C is executing the balance of plant, civil, and electrical works of the Buena Ventura wind farm outside Adolfo Gonzales Chaves, a small farm town in Buenos Aires province. In addition, Tecpetrol is providing supervision services for all the main subcontracts and site works, including the balance of plant and wind turbine installation up to the wind farm commissioning. Each wind turbine generator will have a 4.2 MW power capacity, producing 510 GWh/year. 

The farm’s energy will be injected into Argentina’s high-voltage grid, and Tenaris will use that amount in Campana, Buenos Aires province. "It's not that an electron produced at the wind farm will be the same one that will reach the plant in Campana," says Eduardo Beloqui, Tenaris' Senior Manager of Energy Planning. "The wind park will inject 100 MW, and Tenaris’ Industrial Center in Campana will take 100 MW from the network."

In March, the project reached a new milestone by completing the assembly of the first two wind turbine generators, and in what goes from April, two more have already been installed. The benefit for Tenaris is that using wind power will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 152,000 metric tons per year at its plant, helping to meet a target of reducing these emissions by 30% by 2030 compared with its 2018 levels. This effort also includes using more recycled steel scrap and making operations more energy efficient, helping to contribute to the energy transition to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

On March 23, Tenaris finished the assembly of the first two wind turbines, a milestone for the company.-

The effort that it takes to make this happen can be seen on the ground at Buena Ventura. The construction site was bustling with 450 E&C workers at peak activity. Soil has been moved, and roads built. Over 2,400 tons of steel have been brought in, and heaps of concrete have been poured for the 24 wind tower foundations. Each 130-meter tower, nearly twice the height of the Obelisco monument in Buenos Aires, will have three 75-meter-long blades that spin with the wind, reaching a final height of 205 meters. The turbines will turn the wind energy into electricity. 

By the end of May, the team had already started with the assembly of wind turbine number 10. Still, there’s more to do before launching the park's operations. An 81 km cable must be run underground to connect the turbines to a substation, connecting the power to a new high-voltage transmission line that feeds the national electric grid. 

Everything is running on a limited schedule at Buena Ventura with the goal of starting operations in late August 2023. This has been a challenge for Guillermo Mayayo, Techint Engineering and Construction Project Manager. He’s had to juggle a bevy of tasks at the same time. "We have a pretty tight deadline," he says. "But we are in the final stretch of the heaviest civil work.”

The disruptions in the global supply chain caused mainly by the war in Ukraine have slowed imports of the wind farm's main components and parts. "This has had an impact of a few weeks of delay in entry," Mayayo says. But the setbacks have been overcome, and the turbines, supplied by Denmark-based Vestas, finally arrived at the site, where Vestas will continue with the installation of the wind turbine generators until the commissioning of the project.

Argentina is blessed with strong and steady winds for generating a constant electricity output, a large difference compared with other countries. The capacity factor of Buena Ventura, or the average output concerning the peak power capacity, is expected to be 57%, one of the highest in Argentina in terms of wind farms. 

Tecpetrol is optimistic that Buena Ventura is just the beginning of the transition to cleaner energy sources for the Techint Group in Argentina. The constant winds in the area are so good that more wind farms can be developed and built. In fact, Tecpetrol is developing more renewable projects to help meet the Techint Group’s decarbonization efforts in the future, explains Xavier Ramírez Veliz, Business Development Director and Head of Clean Power within the Energy Transition Unit at Tecpetrol. 

Each 130-meter tower will have three 75-meter-long blades that spin with the wind, reaching a final height of 205 meters.-

There are challenges to expanding the capacity to deploy new renewable projects, however. The biggest is the need for more capacity on the electric grid, that network of lines and transformers that move power from generators to cities and factories. "There is a deficit in the high-voltage transmission that doesn't allow you to incorporate more renewable projects," Beloqui says. 

Ramírez Veliz adds: "This is one of the physical and technical limitations to take advantage of the country’s world-class renewable resources to exploit its full potential.”  

The good thing is that the national government cannot dally. Argentina's law requires renewable power to meet 20% of total demand by 2025 and 25% by 2030, an incentive for the building of transmission capacity to connect more wind and solar projects. The country met 14% of its demand with renewables (excluding large hydropower plants) in 2022, according to the Secretary of Energy. Of that, 73% came from wind, 15% from solar, 6% from bioenergy, and 5% from small hydropower facilities.

Beloqui says more investments like Buena Ventura are in the ideal pipeline to continue reducing the company's global emissions to meet its 2030 target. "We are certainly going to continue with these clean energy projects," he says. "It will be either here or somewhere else."

Tecpetrol’s Energy Transition Unit is also leading the development of greenfield clean energy projects in countries where the Techint Group has a big energy demand like Mexico and the United States, says Ramírez Veliz.  

Ternium has wind projects on the horizon

Tecpetrol is developing another 100 MW wind farm in Olavarría, 150 km away from Adolfo Gonzáles Chaves. Ternium will invest $160 million to build this wind farm to source electricity for its Argentine operations. The project is expected to start operations in the second half of 2024. The wind farm will have a nominal power capacity of 72 MW, allowing it to replace about 65% ​​of the energy that Ternium acquires from the national grid with renewable energy and reduce its CO2 emissions by 92,500 tons per year. In a second phase in the future, the wind farm can be expanded to up to 100 MW.

The process was similar to Buena Ventura, as the project participated in an auction for the interconnection permit. But in this case, Tecpetrol will remain with the project management through the entire execution up to the start of commercial operations. "Managing these projects will create new knowledge and capabilities for Tecpetrol in the clean power sector, allowing it to enhance the value proposition and provide sustainable energy solutions in other markets", says Ramírez Veliz. "These are new examples of the kind of unique synergies the Techint Group is capable of deploying to create value for the organization and execute projects in new sectors like clean energy", he says.

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