Ecuador’s state-run power producer Empresa Electro Generadora Del Austro Elecaustro (Elecaustro) has begun preliminary construction work for the development of the 22 MW Soldados Yanuncay multipurpose project in the southern province of Azuay.
The project, which is expected to take four years to build at an estimated cost of US$ 90 million, is designed principally to guarantee the supply of drinking water for consumers in the city of Cuenca at least until the year 2050 as well as generate clean power for the national grid. It will comprise a 42 m-high concrete dam that will impound a regulating reservoir called Quingoyacu with a maximum storage capacity of 21 x 106 m3, as well as two cascading hydroelectric plants (the 7 MW Soldados plant and the downstream 15 MW Yanuncay plant) that will generate the equivalent of the annual power supply of 65 000 domestic households. In addition, the project will provide irrigation water for the local communities of San Joaquín and Baños, while regulation of the river will help control flooding along the banks of the Yanuncay river. Elecaustro has pointed out that flooding of the Yanuncay river, as experienced in March 2005, June 2007, February 2010, April 2012, April 2015, and April and May 2020, generated significant damage to public and private infrastructure.
The Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources disclosed that approximately US$ 1.2 million has been invested through inter-institutional cooperation agreements with the mayor’s office of Cuenca, the multi-utility ETAPA, and the local administrations of San Joaquín, Baños and Chaucha as part of the related Territorial Development Programme in road works, tourism, internet infrastructure, contributing to the generation of around 120 direct jobs and 480 indirect jobs.
In September, Elecaustro awarded a contract to the local company Raster Ingenieria de Proyectos to update development plans for the 29 MW Ocaña II hydro project. Ocaña II is planned to be built in the Cañar river basin, downstream from the existing 26.1 MW Ocaña plant. The consultancy work, which will entail the review of the plant’s definitive design and economic financial profile, is required as the project’s existing studies are more than five years old, according to Elecaustro. The contract includes determining possible procurement and financing schemes and drafting an implementation plan.
Elecaustro operates five hydropower plants totalling 66.6 MW, the largest of which is Ocaña.