Argentina has approved construction of build two hydroelectric dams in southern Patagonia, as the Rio Negro province cancelled plans to build a nuclear plant because of a lack of public support despite the personal support of provincial governor Alberto Weretilneck. Rio Negro had been one of a number of locations under consideration for the plant, Nucleoelétrica Argentina SA said on 29 August. Argentina currently has three operating pressurised heavy water reactors – two at the Atucha NPP and one at Embalse.
The Rio Negro plant was one of two worth a total $15bn that Argentina was planning to build with backing from China National Nuclear Corporation. The location for the other plant is still under discussion. In May, Argentina signed an agreement with China for the supply of a Candu pressurised heavy water reactor at its Atucha NPP and a Hualong One pressurised water reactor at an unspecified site.
Plans for the dams to be built on the Santa Cruz River were frozen by President Mauricio Macri in December in the face of environmental concerns. However, the Energy Ministry and the Environment Ministry announced final approval on 28 August, after a government review resulted in construction plans being reduced from 1740MWe to 1310MWe and the dams being sited away from a lake. The dams will be financed and built by China’s Gezhouba Group, and an Argentine consortium of Electroingenieria and Hidrocuyo.