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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Implementing Renewable Energy Technologies in Catamarca, Argentina

Mercedes Ferreyra

Implementing Renewable Energy Technologies in Catamarca, Argentina


Argentina’s government is implementing a series of programmes to encourage the deployment of renewable energy technologies, with an aim to lessening fossil fuel consumption, while covering the nation’s growing electricity demand. The State of Catamarca could be considered a perfect jurisdiction in which to test regulations and policies that, when successfully implemented locally, could subsequently be transferred to a national project. Catamarca was acknowledged years ago as one of the critical electricity zones of the NOA (Argentinean Northwest) region. Additionally, the Catamarca government is engaged in improving its energy system, and developing renewable energy technologies.

By utilizing a backcasting approach, where the desired sustainable future energy production is known, the research methodology comprised three major stages. The first stage involved a literature review of Catamarca and Argentina’s energy historical background. The second stage combined case studies to understand how two Argentina’s provinces have implemented renewable energy resources. Finally, ten semi-structured interviews of representative of Catamarca’s private and public sectors and at the national level were conducted to bridge the information gaps and to connect previous regulatory experiences with Catamarca and Argentina’s current situation.

Under this framework, this dissertation is built upon the understanding of the current energy circumstances, creating a system for connecting policies, local economy, and the available renewable energy technologies. Developing a scheme to obtain a more sustainable energy economy to guide policy makers will enable them to endorse renewable energy technology deployment to meet the future needs of the electricity grid.  There are several perspectives from which one could analyse this problem. In brief, this dissertation suggests a process to deploy renewable energy technologies in Catamarca, which should be of sufficiently general applicability to be transferred, first to similar states, and ultimately to accommodate the changes that might be required at a national level.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.