Hydroelectric Atlas of Mesoamerica. Third part

Hydroelectric Atlas of Mesoamerica. Third part

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Private projects begin to position themselves in the energy market. Although the public entity in charge of the sector, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), is still the main actor, 13.2% of generation and 7.6% of distribution is already in the hands of private initiative thanks to national laws 7,200 and 7,508 referring to? Private cogenerators ?. Many of the foreign investment projects are? Insured? through the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Such is the case of the Río Volcan and Don Pedro (Sarapiquí) hydroelectric cogenerators. In those examples, OPIC ensured that construction would be carried out by GE Capital (General Electric's finance division). US Constallation Energy purchased

* Given that Costa Rica has been promoted as the Mesoamerican country with the best? Conservation policy? That protects? more percentage of its territory than any other, future hydroelectric projects are handled with great caution. Even so, several are the plans that have come to light, especially since a greater part of the electricity generation in the country corresponds to hydroelectric power.

NameLocationAdditional Information
Barranca I and IIBarranca River, Guanacaste.120-150 mw each.
Brazil IIVirilla River and Uruca.30.7 MW Complements Brazil I (32 MW, 500 flooded hectares and 540 thousand m3 of storage capacity)
BorucaRio Grande de Terraba basin. Buenos Aires from southern Puntarenas.823 mw with potential of 1500 mw. 200-300 m high and a glass for 6.483 million cubic liters. It would flood some 25 thousand hectares (the entire Rey Curré Reserve and part of the Térraba and Boruca where - part of the Terraba / Sierpe National Wetland). The works would affect the reserves of Ujarrás, Salitre and Cabagra. It is a region where indigenous communities are located (the Bruncas in Rey Curré), and also where there are important archaeological sites. The number of displaced is estimated at 1,200 inhabitants. It is striking that "ICE is paying millions of dollars to consulting companies to soften the communities and make them believe that the project matches their development needs." (Durán, 2002). Scheduled for 2012.
CariblancoSarapiquí River, Alajuela. Near San Miguel.

75-80 mw. 40-year lifespan. In a consultation carried out in September 2000 by the Sarapiquí Environmental Welfare Association (ABAS), 97% of the area's residents oppose the project, deciding to declare the Sarapiquí River as Natural Historical Monument. ICE continues its execution and hopes to start operating in 2006.

-Probably it will displace the 12 mw Bagaces project.

ChachahuaQuebrada Chacahua and Río Burrito. Guanacaste.4.1 mw. The water would be taken from the channel of the Chachagüita stream and carried 3 km to the Burrito river. Without returning the water to the Quebrada, it would affect, among other things, the soils dedicated to crops and contiguous forests, where 70% of the area is part of the Arenal-Monteverde Protective Zone.
Chocosuela 2-3Alajuela20 mw + 10 mw magnification.
CoteCote Lake30.7 mw. Together with the Laguna and Río Arenal, it is part of what ICE considers the "national electric power zone."
El Encanto (mini or micro hydroelectric)Aranjuez River, Puntarenas8.4 mw. With majority participation of the Spanish Unión FENOSA.
General (BOT)General River. South Puntarenas.39 mw
GuavaReventazón River, Cartago.180 mw (3 turbines) 38 m high. It floods 1 million 518 thousand hectares. Right in the area of ​​the Guayabo National Monument (, site of biological and cultural importance. From ICE and the Japanese Cooperation Agency (JICA) / J-Power (Japan)
La Garita (enlargement)Alajuela Río Macho, Cartago Cachí.+ 10 mw.
The jewelGuanacaste.50 mw
Las Pailas (BOT)South Puntarenas.55 mw. Scheduled for 2009
The plainsNaranjo River,85 mw (2 turbines) and 389 Gw per year. 62 m high. It will flood 143 thousand hectares of tropical forest. From the Japanese Cooperation Agency (JICA) / J-Poer (Japan)
PacuarePacuare Basin (Bajo Pactar, Mollejones and San Pablo). Siquirres, Limón.156 mw. Various scenarios under study. Scheduled for 2010. It would affect the Nimarí indigenous community in the Chirripó Indigenous Reserve by flooding 288 hectares of primary and secondary forest. You can opt for the Siquirres project.
Peñas BlancasPeñas Blancas River. Next to San Isidro37 mw. It is located right on the shores of the Arenal National Park and the Arenal-Monteverde Protective Zone. Although it was recently inaugurated in March 2003; Its importance is that it establishes a? new financing modality? that opens cause to the participation of the private sector (including foreigners). Peñas Blancas is privately owned, but it is leased to ICE until 2015 when it can be purchased, leased for another period, or transferred to another company. This is another form of privatization of the electricity generation sector that is being applied in most of ICE's projects; such is the case of Cariblanco.
PirrisSan Marcos de Tarrazú and San Pablo de León Cortes. disc. from San jose128 mw. 133 meters high. Funded by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECD) through the JBIC Japan Bank ($ 134 million of a total of $ 292 million that the dam will cost). The multinational benefited is J-Power (Japan). 10% under construction and scheduled to start operations in 2009.
SmashReventazón River. 8 km southwest of the Cd. Siquierres, Limón.494 mw (3 turbines). 229 meters high. It will flood 2,510 hectares with 1,857 million m3. Interconnected to the Guayabos, Cachi, Río Macho and La Garita dams.
RivasChirripó and Buena Vista riversIt is considered a project of 5 interconnected dams.
SiquirresPacuare River, Limón.310 mw (4 turbo generators). 200 m high. It would flood 650 thousand hectares. From the Japanese Cooperation Agency (JICA) / J-Power (Japan) and ICE.
Bull 3Toro River (tributary of the Sarapiquí)50 mw. Complex financed by the IDB, which has benefited 22 companies from? Member countries? for an amount of hundreds of millions of dollars. Toro 1 and 2 generate 311 million Kw / h per year, which would be enhanced with version 3.
* La Barranca I and II Combined Cycle Plant.Guanacaste120 mw. Scheduled for 2005-2006.
* Las Miravalles, Pailas and Borinquen Geothermal PlantsMiravalles V (20 mw) is located in Bagaces, Guanacaste and is financed by the IDB. Las Pailas with a capacity of 50 mw and Boriquen
* Combined Cycle Thermoelectric20 km from the port of Puntarenas120-150 mw.
* Moín III thermoelectric plant.Lemon.80 mw. Built by Marubeni Corporation and General Electric.
* La Tejona Wind FarmGuanacaste20 mw. It already exists. Initially funded by the government of the Netherlands. Executed by ICE, Vestas (Denmark) and Essent Sustainable Energy (The Netherlands). It is linked to Wind Farm 1 and 2.
* Wind Farm 1 and 220 mw. Scheduled for 2008 and 2010 respectively.

The Institute of Hydraulic Resources and Electrification (IRHE), privatized since 1997, was divided into 8 divisions. Four for generation, 3 for distribution and 1 for transmission. The distribution sector was sold to Unión FENOSA (Spain) and Constellation Power (USA). It is considered that the bulk of the thermoelectric equipment is provided by General Electric and Carterpillar, while in the hydroelectric (estimated at about 613.1 mw) Ansaldo Gie (Italy), Asea Brown Boveri (Switzerland) and Hitachi (Japan) join. Other capitals that can be listed in the business (both in Panama and LA) are: American Insulator, Cummins, Kohler, and Westinghouse from the USA; Rits and Siemens from Germany; Artechi and Isolux from Spain; Trafo from Brazil; and Hyundai of Korea.

NameLocationAdditional Information
Carob treesRiver Casita de Piedra. Province of chiriqui.11.2 mw. 50-year concession contract to Hidroeléctrica Chiriquí, S.A.
Quebro mouthQuebro River. Montijo district. Province of Veraguas.8.5 mw. It would flood 600 hectares of the best arable land in Montijo (very close to the Cerro Hoya National Park), particularly affecting the Las Bocas, El Guayabo, Cativo, Furniales and Higuerenoso communities. It has been awarded to Hidroeléctrica del Sur, S.A. owned by Augusto Onasis García, who built an airstrip in that district like the one at the US Howard base in that country.
Bayano (3rd extension)Corregimiento of El Llano. Chepo District. Panama province.170 mw. To the two turbines of 42 mw each will be added one acquired in 2002 with a capacity of 86 mw. It is in the hands of AES Panamá as a result of the merger of Generación de Electricidad de Bayano, S.A. and Generación de Electricidad de Chiriquí, S. A .. It is a subsidiary of the US AES Corporation, a multinational company valued at 33 billion dollars and with profits in 2002 of 8.632 million dollars. It operates in El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, etc.
BonyicBonyic Creek. Bocas del Toro province.30 mw. It is controlled by Hidro Ecológica del Teribe, S. A. It is located on the shores of the Palo Seco Protective Forest, Naso indigenous territory.
Burica, Baru and CaisánOld Chiriquí, Chiriquí Province.280 mw altogether. Burica with a capacity of 60 mw, Baru with 150 mw and Caizan with 72 mw.
Boiler (mini or micro hydroelectric)Caldera River. Caldera Corregimiento, Chiriquí.10 mw (2 turbines of 5 mw each). The project is promoted by Los Naranjos Overseas, S. It complements the La Estrella and Los Valles hydroelectric plants that together generate 90 mw (the first 42 and the second 48).
CañazasCañazas River, Veraguas.25 mw.
Canjilones / ChiriquíTown of Gualaca. Chiriqui.120 mw (two turbines). It diverts the waters of the Chiriquí River through a channel (6 km) to the Quebrada Barrigón. Using the waters discharged by the Fortuna Central (in the Hornitos district, 49% owned by the US / Canada consortium Hidro-Quebec-El Paso), the waters of the Quebrada Barrigón and the diverted waters of the Chiriquí River, it forms a reservoir over the Quebrada Barrigón from which the waters are piped 4.8 km to the Canjilones power plant for the generation of electricity. The concession is in the hands of the American David John Sandstrom, president of AES Panamá, S. A., formerly Empresa de Generación Eléctrica de Chiriquí. It is built by the Swedish multinational Skanska, General Electric and Alstom (France) -ICA (Mexico). In March 2003 she was visited by the managers of the Bank of China, Citibank, Bank of Boston, among other bankers.
ChagresChagras River, Panama Province36 mw. It would be located in the heart of the Chagras National Park.
Changuinola II and III.Changuinola River, Bocas del Toro.They are integrated into Changuinola I with a potential set at 300 mw. Changuinola II has a potential of between 300 and 150 MW, according to the estimate (the first from Chas T. Main in 1979, and the second from the Government Cabinet in 1996). Changuinola III goes from 102 mw in 1979 to 150 mw in the 1996 evaluation. It would flood indigenous settlements located between the Naso and Ngöbe-Buglé territories in the settlement area of ​​the Palo Seco Protective Forest.
Corita / IguiCorita River, Veraguas.Electricity generation of between 50 and 90 mw.
Culum I and IICulumbre River, Bocas del Toro.Culum I with a capacity of 150 mw. Culumbrre II between 128 and 50 mw (according to estimates from 1979 and 1996 indicated above). They would be located within the Palo Seco Protective Forest and Ngöbe-Buglé indigenous territory.
Gualaca / PotbellyChiriquí River Basin. Gualaca. Province of chiriqui.120 mw. It is a system of 2 reservoirs (Río Chiriquí and Quebrada Barrigón) and a plant that is fed by the waters of the Canjilones hydroelectric plant. The concession was provisionally granted in 2002 to Bontex, S.A ..
GuasquitasProvince of chiriqui84 mw. Take advantage of the turbinated water from the La Fortuna power plant. It is owned by AES Panama and built by ICA-General Electric.
Llano ÑopoTabasara River, Chiriquí.48 mw.
Paso Broad and Bajo de MinaOld Chiriquí River. Province of chiriqui.12.4 and 25 mw respectively. Powered by Hidropower Corp.
Pando and Monte LirioOld Chiriquí River. Province of chiriqui.32.6 and 51.6 mw respectively. Promoted by Electrón Investments, S. A.
Stone RiverRiver Piedra. Colon province10.5 mw. Awarded to Hidroeléctrica Río Piedra, S. A.
Santa Maria / La SoledadSanta María River, Veraguas.30.5 mw. Close to the Las Macanas Wildlife Reserve.
Saint Paul I and IISan Pablo River, Veraguas.20 and 40 mw respectively.
Teribe I, II, III, IV, and V.Teribe River. Bocas del Toro Province.Altogether it is a system that would generate 580 mw. They would produce respectively: 237 78; 126; 59 and 79 mw. It is a forested zone of biological priority and a Naso indigenous zone. It is adjacent to the Palo Seco Protective Forest and La Amistad National Park. It will surely enter part of the former and Naso indigenous lands.
Tabasará I and II (there is talk of possible versions III and IV)Tabasará River. Provinces of Chiriquí and Veraguas.Both 46 mw each (2 turbines of 23 mw each), but apparently they have potential for 220 mw. It is promoted by Eco-Ambiente, S. and under the command of Tabasará Hydroelectric Consortium of businessman and ex-government advisor Gabriel Btesh (linked to ex-Mexican governor Mario Villanueva accused of drug trafficking, with whom he had shady deals such as the premises of Plaza Toledo) The project has as partners Spanish capital groups ( not disclosed), former Panamanian President Felipe Virzi, among other actors. The complaints indicate manipulations in the environmental impact study and in the adjudication process, however it has been approved by the National Environmental Authority (ANAM). It would displace more than a thousand Ngóbe-Buglé indigenous families, from settlements such as Cerro Caña, Alto Caballero, Cerro Viejo and Tolé cabecera.
* Panama Canal (Canal expansion and location of the Coclé del Norte, Indio I and Indio II hydroelectric plants)Coclé and Colón ProvincesIn 1999 a law was passed empowering the Panama Canal Authority to build dams on three rivers north of the canal to give the Canal more expansion water. These dams, of considerable size entry 3 and with the potential to be 5 (classified by the government as "lakes"), would flood 550 thousand hectares of tropical forest and displace about 40 thousand people. That of Coclé del Norte would generate 150 mw and those of Indio I and II 25 mw each. There are 5 other smaller projects: Ciri Grande (Panama) of 15 mw; Pequeni (Colón) of 15 mw; Gatún? Magnification- (Colón) of 4.5 mw; Trinidad (Panama) of 7.6 mw; and Boquerón (Colón) of 2 mw. It is no coincidence that the concession was awarded in 1999 to the Panama Canal Authority, the same entity that intends to build the third set of locks (April 2002) at a cost of between 3 and 5 billion dollars. That project is being designed by the Belgian-French consortium Tractebel Developtment Engineering, Coiné-et-Bellier, Technum N.V. and Compaigne Nacionales du Rhone. Also, another version is prepared, nothing more and nothing less than by the US Corps of Engineers, contemplating locks of two and three levels. Among the multinationals that would benefit from these projects are undoubtedly: Harza Engineering Corporation (part of MWH of the USA and which has already been awarded part of the project under the name of Hydropower Indefinite Delivery Contract), General Electric, ICA (which made the Bridge of the Americas and the controversial Corredor Sur highway), Alstom (France), FLUOR (USA), Cemex, etcetera.
* Thermoelectric Plants in Curundú, Pedregal, Bethania, Pacora and Tocumen in the District of Panama; and the Payardi Peninsula.Various districts.Curundú (94.5 mw from Pana Energy Group). Pedregal (51 mw from Pedregal Power Company). Bethania (5 mw from Eden Bay Corp). Tocumen (43.9 mw from Energía Térmica Modular, S.A.) Pacora (51 mw from Pedregal Power Company). Payardi (71 mw from the Panamerican Power Corporation). The Japanese Cooperation Agency and its multinational J-Power are running a 150 MW combined cycle plant in Colón.
* Wind PlantsChirirquí Province, Veraguas and Los Santos.

Devil's Jaw. Corregimiento de Hornitos, Gualaca (Chiriquí) of 30.3 MW and Las Tablas Wind Farm (Los Santos) of 27 MW; both from the company Generadora Eléctrica de Panamá (GEPSA).

Also the Empresa de Transmición Eléctrica, S.A. (ETESA) has mini-projects of 2 to 5 MW for rural regions and one of 12-20 MW in Cerro Tute and La Miel in the provinces of Veraguas and Los Santos respectively.

Source: Own elaboration based on multiple journalistic notes, official and diffusion documents.


[*] Member of the Seminar? El Mundo Actual? of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Sciences and Humanities of UNAM. He is currently carrying out his doctoral studies, under the auspices of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

[?] Gualdoni. ? Central America and Mexico launch an investment plan for more than 4,000 million.? The country. Spain, November 12, 2002. Pp. 54.

[?] The Graphic Press-Economics Office. ?AC. and Mexico meet next week? Budget distribution of the PPP ?. The printing press. The Savior. March 15, 2002. 64.

[§] In general, large dam projects are linked to massive agroindustrial irrigation programs, as well as to the generation of electricity, particularly for industrial consumption. In the world, around 65-70% of water consumption corresponds to agriculture, and the bulk of this to irrigation. The latter comprise about a sixth of the cultivated land, but contribute more than a third of the world harvest.

[**] Delgado, Gian Carlo. Privatizing the fresh water of Mesoamerica. New Society. No. 183. January-February, 2003. Venezuela.

Video: DIY converting an old water mill for off grid micro hydro electric power Part 3 (June 2022).


  1. Khayyat

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  2. Sylvester

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