Tierra del Fuego Case Study Capacity Expansion Analysis

Tom Harris, Sarah Turner, James Morris, Anastasiia Sakharova, Omar Guerra, Juan Pablo Carvallo, Daniella Rough, Ezequiel Perez Vazquez, Joaquin Alfredo Perez Torres, Ana Belen Ferrera

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This case study, developed by Net Zero World Initiative and the Government of Argentina, examines least-cost decarbonization pathways for Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, utilizing renewable energy, energy storage, hydrogen, and other decarbonization technologies. Being the second largest natural gas producing province in Argentina, Tierra del Fuego has historically relied on natural gas for their energy sector needs. As they look at possible decarbonization pathways, they face challenges due to extreme weather conditions, isolation from the mainland, and low population density. The study utilizes the Engage web application for capacity expansion modeling, addressing both business-as-usual (BAU) and accelerated decarbonization scenarios, with varying degrees of electrification and carbon emission constraints. Key findings reveal that an interconnection with the mainland, high contribution of wind energy development on Tierra del Fuego, energy storage, and hydrogen, coupled with energy-efficient electrification technologies (such as heat pumps and electric vehicles), emerge as the most cost-effective solutions to decarbonize, significantly reducing carbon emissions and total system energy costs. The study explores self-generation and interconnection alternatives, demonstrating the economic advantage of an interconnection of Tierra del Fuego with the mainland, as an alternative to 100% local generation. Sensitivity analyses on wind data sources and temporal resolutions, as well as projected natural gas prices, highlight the influence of external factors on the feasibility of decarbonization pathways. Challenges identified include the practicality of phasing out natural gas, economic uncertainty, cost implications of long-term storage technologies as wind energy increases, and geographical limitations for wind generation. The case study concludes that while substantial emissions reductions can be achieved by 2050, and be competitive with conventional pathways, achieving a full 100% decarbonization by 2050 would entail higher costs, particularly due to the significant reliance on storage solutions with higher contribution of wind energy. The analysis offers valuable insights for policymakers and stakeholders in Argentina's energy sector, emphasizing the importance of strategic planning, investment in renewable energy and storage technologies, and careful consideration of local conditions in the transition towards Net Zero targets.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages36
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-7A40-88156


  • decarbonization
  • DOE
  • global energy systems
  • international
  • net zero
  • net zero world
  • net-zero emissions
  • NZW
  • sub national
  • sub-national
  • Tierra del Fuego


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