Q1 REVIEW: Latin America hydropower

Monday, April 17, 2017

The first few months of 2017 have seen continued momentum on the hydropower front in Latin America following a year that saw South America alone add almost 10MW from the energy source.

International Hydropower Association (IHA) highlights that South America incorporated 9.7GW of hydroelectric capacity in 2016, behind China which led with 11.7GW of the estimated 31.5GW that came online last year.

Start your 15 day free trial now!


Already a subscriber? Please, login


"Drivers for hydropower's growth include a general increase in demand not just for electricity, but also for qualities such as reliable, clean and affordable power as countries seek to meet the carbon reduction goals set out in the Paris Agreement," according to IHA.

The association adds that Brazil, Ecuador and Peru were among the 10 countries that installed the most hydroelectric capacity last year.


Brazil's boost came from the Belo Monte, Teles Pires, Jirau and Santo Antônio plants; Ecuador saw the startup of its largest hydroelectric complex, Coca Codo Sinclair; and Cerro del Águila and Chaglla came online in Peru.

The drive continued in the first quarter, with Itaipu on the Brazil-Paraguay border (pictured) – the world's second largest hydroelectric dam after China's Three Gorges – setting a production record.

And Belo Monte stepped up its contribution to Brazil's grid, adding 611MW in January alone.

Meanwhile, Latin American development bank CAF, Bolivia's state power company Ende and Brazil's Eletrobras launched a call to further define the hydroelectric potential of the Madera river basin and principal tributaries shared by both countries.

Ende also launched a process to carry out environmental impact study work for Bolivia's US$1bn 600MW Rositas hydroelectric project (the call was reissued this month).

In Peru, authorities granted a temporary hydroelectric concession that took the number of such concessions in the country from the power source to 17 for a combined 1,339MW.

And Ecuador state power generation holding company Celec reported that the rotor of the generator of the second unit at the 275MW Minas San Francisco hydroelectric project was lowered into place.

For additional Q1 hydropower content from the region, check out the following briefs:

Peru's Egesur plans to start hydro plant construction this year

Peru flags Luz del Sur hydro EIS

Hydro developer eyes Peru's central highlands

Brazil's Copel in legal battle over 300MW hydro delay

Chile firm seeks US$40mn mini-hydro green light

Colombia hydroelectric metrics dip

Argentina advances early stage hydro

Peru flags US$570mn hydropower project

Reporting impasse stymies Colombia hydro development

Ecuador hydro developer secures financing


IHA has identified sector trends, such as the establishment of incentives to manage hydropower's risk profile and ensure that projects are built "in the right way and in the right place," and for developers to access the green bond market.

The search for synergies between hydropower and other renewables is also sparking interest, according to the association, which points to the construction of floating photovoltaics on hydropower reservoirs, such as a pilot underway in Brazil.

Other areas include a push for regional high voltage transmission systems to connect hydroelectricity with markets, and the emergence of "smart" modernization and digitization of assets.

"By 2050, it is estimated that roughly half of the entire fleet of existing hydropower equipment will require modernization."

The BNamericas Project Profiles Database features some 140 planned hydroelectric plants in the region, among them: