Inauguration of 120-MW Misicuni hydro helps Bolivia reduce thermoelectric output

When Bolivian President Evo Morales formally launched operations of the 120-MW Misicuni hydro plant yesterday, the country moved one step closer to its goal of reducing thermoelectric output.

Ende (the National Electricity Company S.A.) developed the hydro project, now the “largest hydroelectric power plant in the country,” at a cost of US$142 million. The powerhouse contains three 40-MW Pelton turbine-generator units and will be operated by Corani, a subsidiary of Ende, BNamericas says. The project is in the Misicuni River basin in El Paso, Quillacollo municipality, Cochabamba province.

The Inter-American Development Bank contributed funding for this project, along with the General Treasure of the Nation and Ende. Ende says it took about half a century to complete the development of Misicuni.

In addition to generating electrical energy, Misicuni will contribute to providing drinking water and irrigation water.

Ende was created in 1962 to produce, transmit and distribute electric power in the country. The first project it developed was the 27-MW Corani hydroelectric plant, which began operation in 1967.

Hydroelectricity situation in Bolivia
As of July 2017, 80% of the electricity generated in Bolivia came from thermal facilities, with 19.4% from hydro, BNamericas says.

The country’s power matrix targets are to move hydro from 25% of the total mix in 2016 to 78% by 2025. This will move hydro capacity from 475 MW in 2016 to 11,725 MW in 2025 and boost total generating capacity in the country from 1,941 MW in 2016 to 14,962 MW in 2025. Authorities envision exporting surplus electricity from the hydro plants under construction and planned for the future.

Other hydroelectric projects under construction in Bolivia include 203-MW Miguillas and 124-MW San Jose.

Planned hydro projects are 134-MW Banda Azul, 990-MW Cachuela Esperanza, 347-MW Carrizal, 3,676-MW Chepete-Bala, 280-MW Ivirizu, 132-MW Molineros, and 600-MW Rositas.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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