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Investor sought for Cardenillo in Ecuador

A private investor is sought for the development of the 596.5 MW hydro plant.

Ecuador’s state power utility, Corporación Eléctrica del Ecuador (CELEC), has contracted CPCS Transcom, a Canadian international infrastructure development company specializing in private sector participation in power infrastructure, to assist with the public procurement of a private investor for the development of the 596.5 MW Cardenillo hydro project on the Paute river, in the province of Morona Santiago.

CELEC EP signed a service contract with CPCS Transcom for the structuring of a public selection process model for the concession to a private investor of the Cardenillo project in September.

The advisor will develop all necessary documentation for its implementation, as well as assist the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources during the execution of the competitive procurement process until the signing of the contract and financial closure of the project.

The US$ 1.3 billion plant would be the final project in the Middle Paute hydropower complex, which comprises the 170 MW Mazar, 1075 MW Molino and 487 MW Sopladora plants, which are operated by the company’s Celec Sur business unit. The project, which will be located downstream of the Sopladora plant, is to be financed, designed, constructed, operated and maintained by the private investor under a 30-year build, operate and transfer concession, including the expected six-year construction period. It is designed with a 136 m-high double curvature arch dam, an intake structure including a 4.4 km-long headrace tunnel, a main underground powerhouse to be equipped with six vertical axis Pelton turbines with installed capacity of 588.3 MW, and a 7.3 MW environmental flow plant at the foot of the dam. The project will generate an estimated average annual output of 3356 GWh under a nominal net head of 372 m and nominal flow of 30 m3/s. The project’s design discharge is estimated at 180 m3/s, comprising the water discharged from upstream Sopladora (150 m3/s), as well as water from the intermediate basin of Paute, between the discharge from the Molino plant and the Cardenillo dam (30 m3/s).

CELEC secured an environmental licence for the project from the Ministry of the Environment in January this year. Pre-feasibility, feasibility and definitive design studies were undertaken between 2011-2013 by a consortium of Pöyry (now AFRY) and Camin­osca Asociados. When commissioned, the four-plant cascade will have a total installed capacity of 2350 MW and will generate an average annual output of more than 13 TWh.