El Cronista

Hugo Sigman joined Cartellone for a renewable energy project with forest biomass

With an investment of US $ 60 million, Hugo Sigman will develop the largest project of electric power generation from wood residues

While foreign investments are coming in, two local entrepreneurs, José Cartellone, with the Benicio group, which formed part of their children, and Hugo Sigman of the Insud Group, decided to partner to enter the renewable energy business. Through the company Renewable Energy Sources S.A. (FRESA) created by Insud in 2009, will build an electric power plant from forest biomass in Gobernador Virasoro, province of Corrientes.

The initiative will require some US $ 60 million, of which half will be contributed by partners and the rest financed by banks. It will produce 40 MW, sufficient energy to supply 100 thousand inhabitants, who will turn to the National Interconnected System through a contract with Enarsa.

The genesis of the project goes back to 2013, when Fresa was awarded in a tender of Genren, the Renewable Energy Generation plan launched during the management of Cristina Kirchner, predecessor of the current Renov.ar. “The contract was signed in November 2015, a few days before the ballotage, and its start was delayed because there was a review of it by the new authorities,” Tristán Briano, Fresa`s president  said.

The plant will be the largest of its kind built in the country, and will use forest industry waste such as chips, sawdust, bark and wood debris that currently do not have an industrial use. In its construction will be used 400 people and once in operation, planned for the first half of 2019, will directly occupy another 60.

“This thermal power plant will be more than sustainable, because in addition to maintaining the environmental balance, it will improve people’s lives,” said José Mendes José Cartellone in a press release.

With a long history in the construction as part of the company that bears his surname, founded by his grandfather in 1918, and today handles with his brothers, the businessman decided to diversify with the creation of Grupo Benicio, with his children. Renewable energies are one of its main points of interest, from the construction of a biomass plant in Denmark and another in Brazil from which it obtains electric energy with the bagasse of its sugar mills. “The technology and know-how developed in these projects will be turned to the new biomass plant in Corrientes,” said Briano. In this way, Cartellone is also involved in construction, mainly infrastructure, in services, such as the provision of electricity and gas, road concessions in Brazil, agribusiness, steel mills in Mendoza and Chile, and finally , renewable energy.

“This work will generate productive capacity and qualified employment,” said Hugo Sigman, CEO of Insud. The group emerged in the mid-1980s when Sigman and his wife, Silvia Gold, set up a pharmaceutical laboratory, and today includes forestry, hotel, design and film investment, among other activities. “This is the group’s first energy project, and we do not rule out a vertical integration of agribusiness activities into the production of biofuels,” said Manuel Sobrado, executive director of Grupo Insud.

Cartellone and Sigman were united from a concern of the latter, who wanted to give a productive use to their forest plantations. The first project they outlined was for self-generation of energy, but then they decided to scale it to produce more energy and dump it into the grid.

“This project will have a multiplier effect on employment and development,” Governor Ricardo Colombi, together with the Intendant of Virasoro Beatriz Pintos, stressed last Friday. The attendance of Mauricio Macri was scheduled but did not arrive due to scheduling problems.

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