Taiwan president confirms loan to build Honduras’ 100-MW Patuca 3

Addressing the Honduran National Congress, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian confirmed Taiwan will invest T$10 billion (US$303 million) to help build the 100-MW Patuca 3 hydroelectric project in Honduras.

Chen addressed the Congress August 22 as part of a Central American tour and summit with leaders of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, and Belize.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya announced an initial Patuca 3 agreement with Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) following a visit to Taiwan last year. (HNN 10/18/06)

Chen said construction of Patuca 3, on the Patuca River, is essential if the nation’s ever-increasing demand for electricity is to be met. He said Taiwan is obligated to help Honduras reduce poverty and develop infrastructure.

A Taiwan presidential spokesman said Patuca 3 will be developed by Taipower on a build-operate-transfer basis and that the Honduras government is to repay the loan over 39 years from electricity revenues.

Zelaya previously said work on Patuca 3 is to start in 2008 at a site between two Patuca tributaries, the Guayape and Guayambre rivers, in eastern Honduras. Taiwan’s Sinotec Engineering was tapped to review existing project information.

Proposed to have a 73-meter-tall concrete dam, the project was the subject of a feasibility study several years ago by Geracom. A basin of 72 square kilometers would make Patuca 3 the biggest hydroelectric project built in Honduras since the early 1980s.

Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, is trying to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels for power generation as high global oil prices batter its economy. Energy demand in Honduras is increasing about 10 percent a year as the manufacturing industry expands.

The hydro project assistance was part of an 11-point communique signed August 21 by Chen and Zelaya. Chen’s Central America tour also included proposals to fund an oil refinery in Guatemala and to help solve a power crisis in Nicaragua.

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