• Carolyn

Clever Córdoba's peanut power

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

From peanuts to power


On Argentina's Father’s Day, 16 June 2019, just after 7am, a massive power outage blacked out most of Argentina, all of Uruguay, and parts of Paraguay and southern Brazil.


On that dark winter’s morning there was a tiny glow in the Argentine province of Córdoba. Lights blazed in the town of Ticino, and its 3,000 inhabitants had the humble peanut to thank.


Córdoba is the main peanut growing area of Argentina, and the Ticino company Lorenzati, Ruetsch y Cía sells 140 thousand tons of peanuts per year. Leftover peanut husks are burnt to produce steam for a steam turbine, and this turbine produces electric power for the peanut factory.


The power plant, built in 2017, is able to return 65% of the energy it generates into the national electricity network - an amount that can supply about 8,000 households per year.


On that Sunday the power plant was able to direct electricity to the township.


Most of Argentina’s power was back within seven hours, but Ticino’s residents were probably too busy celebrating Father’s Day to notice.


Argentina - becoming more energetic


Argentina is a net importer of energy but is working to reverse that situation, not with peanut husks but with further development of the world’s second-largest shale gas deposit, Vaca Muerta. This translates to ‘Dead Cow.’ So far only about 4% of Vaca Muerta has entered the development stage.


Renewable energy - solar, wind etc - is also on the rise. Argentina plans to draw 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, from less than 2% currently.


And as for the peanut power plant, it is only one of a number of biomass power plants in the country. More are planned, or are under construction - one in Tucumán (the 'sugar' province) that will use by-products of sugar cane and ethanol; and another in San Juan (famous for its Shiraz) that will use by-products of the wine industry.


In my novel, An Argentine in my Kitchen, the main character, Catherine, writes newsletters about Argentina to her friends. That tradition is continued in the blog category called 'Argentine Cameos'.


Sources:

Wikipedia, lanacion.com.ar, pwc.com.ar, eia.com


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