La Castellana wind power project (the “Project”) includes the construction and operation of a 100.8MW wind power plant, a transformation substation and a 37 kilometer transmission line connecting the plant and substation to the national Argentine grid. The Project is located in the department of Villarino, near the city Bahia Blanca, within the Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. The Project will use 32 Acciona Windpower AW125/3.15MW wind turbine generators (WTGs), each one linked to the on-site 33kV collector switchgear. The voltage will then be stepped up to a transmission voltage of 132kV at the on-site Project substation and will be evacuated through the Project transmission line which will finally connect to the Chañares substation.
This is one of the first projects awarded under Renovar, the renewable energy program of the Republic of Argentina, which aims to increase the participation of renewable energy in the country’s energy matrix to 8% by the end of 2017, and progressively up to 20% by the end of 2025.
Electricity generated by the project will be sold under a single 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the company and the buyer, Compania Administradora del Mercado Mayorista Electrico Sociedad Anonima (CAMMESA). Construction is expected to begin in April 2017. Key contractors include Constructora Sudamericana for civil engineering works, Distrocuyo for electrical engineering works and Nordex-Acciona as the operations and maintenance (O&M) contractor. The project is awaiting the last permits to be able to commence construction.
The project area is approximately 1,500 ha in size and characterized by open grasslands with small shrub woodland. Lands are being leased for a period of 20 years. The total permanent footprint of the project will be 1 – 2% of the project area, including all ancillary facilities. The 32 WTG’s will have a height of 87.5 m and 125 m rotor diameter. The power generated by each WTG will be linked to an on-site 33 kV aerial collector switchgear. The voltage will be stepped up to the transmission voltage of 132 kV at the substation to be built on site and will be evacuated through a 37 km high-voltage transmission line that will connect to the existing Chañares substation. Eight of the 32 turbines are located within the outer limits of a key biodiversity area for an important bird area (IBA). The total project footprint within the IBA represents approximately 0.1% of the total IBA area. There are no human settlements in the vicinity of the project, though lease agreements will be needed with 20 landowners of the easement for the transmission line right of way (RoW). The project has good connectivity by road from the port of Bahia Blanca on national routes 35 and 33, leading into the project site on 14 km’s of tertiary road through agricultural lands. The small road will require improvements to enable the ingress and egress of equipment, materials, machinery and workers. The project will not have work camps during the construction phase. A local hiring policy will give preference to the local workforce, benefiting the local economy
Overview of IFC's Scope of Review
The due diligence process for La Castellana involved: (i) a desktop review of available project information, including but not limited to the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA), government approvals, the company’s corporate environmental and social management system, and available scientific data on biodiversity in the region of the IBA, (ii) a 10-day rapid bird assessment at the project site carried out in November 2016 by two national renowned bird and wind experts commissioned by the company to lead the biodiversity review on the project; (iii) an appraisal visit together with IIC in December 2016, (iv) meetings with environmental regulatory authorities at the federal and provincial level; (v) consultations with locally affected persons in the vicinity of the project area; (vi) and a further site visit in January 2017 by the IFC environmental and social specialist.
Due diligence on predicted impacts to biodiversity involved an extended team of international and national specialists, who, given the lack of baseline available to the project due to limited time to commission these studies prior to commencement of construction works per the PPA agreement, were tasked by the lenders with carrying out comprehensive research and providing an expert determination regarding the likely nature, scale and significance of potential impacts to birds and bats by the project, and whether or not they considered these were manageable and acceptable within the context of PS6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living and Natural Resources.
Biodiversity due diligence also involved discussions with local bird NGO’s and bird organizations in Argentina around potential project impacts on priority bird species, given the windfarms partial siting (8 turbines) inside a key biodiversity area for two locally and internationally protected bird species, the loica pampeana (IUCN V), the crowned solitary eagle (IUCN EN), and a protected type of shrub forest woodland known as the caldenal.
ACCOUNTABILITY MECHANISM OF IFC
The Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) is the independent complaint mechanism and fact-finding body for people who believe they are likely to be, or have been, adversely affected by an IFC or MIGA- financed project. If you submit a complaint to the CAO, they may assist you in resolving a dispute with the company and/or investigate to assess whether the IFC is following its own policies and procedures for preventing harm to people or the environment. If you want to submit a complaint electronically, you can email the CAO at CAO@worldbankgroup.org
. You can learn more about the CAO and how to file a complaint at http://www.cao-ombudsman.org/