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Ecuador moves forward with plans for 596-MW Cardenillo hydro project

State power corporation Celec launched bidding this week to hire a specialized international firm to structure the process for the 596-MW Cardenillo hydro project. The US$1.3 billion plant would be on the Paute River in the provinces of Morona Santiago and Azuay.

Cardenillo would be the final project in the Paute hydro complex, which comprises the 170-MW Mazar, 1,100-MW Molino and 487-MW Sopladora plants that are operated by the recently established Celec Sur business unit.

BNamericas says the contract for Cardenillo entails the preparation of a feasibility report that will look at legal, technical and financial aspects and take 180 days.

A 184-day second phase would follow on approval from the energy ministry and involve the promotion and accompaniment of the public selection process, according to procurement information.

Celec previously told BNamericas that the plan was to launch a tender for Cardenillo in the second half of 2020. Construction would take six years and the concession would run 30 years. Ecuador’s power master plan envisions the plant online in 2026.

The transmission network would cost US$300 million and take 2.5 years to complete.

Celec secured the environmental license for Cardenillo early this year.

In recent days, the energy ministry and U.S. government officials met to discuss energy sector opportunities, including Cardenillo and the 2.4-GW Santiago hydro project.

Hydroelectric power makes up 62.5% of the total installed capacity of power generation in Ecuador as of June 2020.