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Multi-site engineering for a biomass project in Argentina

Published 6.12.2023

Techint Engineering & Construction is developing a project for the San Alonso Thermal Power Plant and the Garruchos Thermal Power Plant, both in Gobernador Virasoro, in the province of Corrientes. In this article, Carlos López Jiménez, Engineering Project Manager, and Sara Couso, Technical Coordinator, tell us more about this plan.


Techint E&C is developing engineering works for the San Alonso Power Plant, owned by Central Térmica San Alonso S.A. (CTSA), a company belonging to the Insud Group, and also for the Garruchos Power Plant, owned by Fuentes Renovables de Energía S.A., which in turn also belongs to the Insud Group as well as to Grupo Benicio. Both power plants are located in the town of Gobernador Virasoro, Province of Corrientes and generate electricity from forest biomass with a capacity of 40 MW/h. each.

An aerial view of · Central Garruchos.

The project has been divided into three phases based on the needs of each power plant. The first phase involved drawing up a diagnostic report on the Garruchos plant, which, despite being fully operational, producing and delivering power to the national grid, was having operational and efficiency problems. The second stage focused on early engineering work, including a consistency analysis of existing engineering, and the preparation of a CAPEX Class IV proposal. At that stage, an offer was also made to comprehensively prepare detail engineering for the San Alonso plant.

The third phase began when Techint E&C was contracted to carry out the detail engineering at the San Alonso plant, representing nearly 86,000 engineering hours and an 11-month lead-time. The work is scheduled to be completed at the end of this year with a total of 113,000 labor hours.

“This project is not only technically challenging, but also complex in terms of logistics and coordination, as it involves employees from Engineering teams in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Spain, India and Mexico,” explains Carlos López Jiménez, from the Seville team in Spain, who is acting as Project Manager for engineering. “This shows how diverse and multicultural the company is, as we are carrying out a project in a single location, but taking a multi-site development approach,” he adds.

A view of · Central Alonso.

“Although collaborative work between headquarters began several years ago, the pandemic reinforced this work scheme. Today, there are 1,200 of us working in the Engineering team on projects and offers where we involve at least two offices. This collaborative scheme also enables us to assemble work teams with specific knowledge that can complement each other on a global level,” comments Alejandro Bostany, Engineering Manager and project sponsor.

The Garruchos project was awarded to Fuentes Renovables de Energía S.A. within the framework of the GENREN Call for Tender, while the San Alonso project is part of the RenovAr 2 program, both promoted by the Argentine Government to diversify the country’s energy matrix and strengthen security of supply and environmental aspects.

“The projects are part of the energy transition as, although their base is fossil fuels, biomass is defined as a neutral component in the life cycle of trees. This will help decarbonize the energy matrix,” explains Sara Couso, the Technical Coordinator of the project who is from the Seville team, and has been working in Argentina since October 2022.  

About Biomass

What is biomass?

This is the organic matter created as a byproduct of tree plantations and industrial forest waste, which can be used efficiently to generate power. The byproducts come from the forests of planted species and the logging industry, and do not affect native forests as they are the waste resulting from the pruning, thinning, felling and industrialization of established forests.

What’s the process like?

Energy generation is a combustion process whereby the biomass is loaded into a burner for combustion. The high temperature gases generated heat water that circulates through the pipes in the walls and sides of the boiler, producing steam that is then sent to a steam turbine connected to an electrical generator.   

What’s the environmental impact?

Biomass is the only energy source able to provide a favorable CO2 balance, as long as it’s obtained in a renewable and sustainable way. This is because organic matter is capable of retaining more CO2 during its growth than is released during its combustion, without increasing its concentration.

A view of · Central Garruchos.

To learn more about the process of producing energy from biomass, see this video.

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