The 2160MW Caruachi hydroelectric plant, located in southeastern Venezuela, has been officially inaugurated in a ceremony attended by government and business leaders from many South American countries.
The plant is located about 500km from Caracas on the lower reaches of the Caroni river in Bolivar state, and is powered by 12 turbine-generators provided by GE Energy. It is capable of producing about 12000GWh/yr, boosting Venezuela’s total generating capacity by about 11%. The Caruachi project is one of three hydroelectric complexes operated by the state-owned utility, C.V.G. Electrificación del Caroní, C.A. (C.V.G. EDELCA).
The contract for the design, supply and installation of the main electro-mechanical equipment was awarded to a consortium of Kvaerner of Norway (Kvaerner’s hydro interests since acquired by GE), GE Energy of America and Elin Transormatoren of Austria. Major work began on the project in 1998.
The first of the 180MW Kaplan turbine-generators GE supplied for the project began commercial operation in April of 2003; the 12th and final unit entered service on 28 February 2006.
The Caruachi plant is located about 35km from where the Caroni and Orinoco rivers meet at Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela. Hydro plants along the Caroni river, including the massive 10,000MW Guri plant completed in the 1980s, supply about three-quarters of Venezuela’s electricity. GE supplied five 700MW generators for Guri II and four 360MW generators for Guri I.
When all planned projects are completed, C.V.G. EDELCA estimates that harnessing the Lower Caroni river will save Venezuela the equivalent of 500,000 barrels of oil per day, compared to 400,000 currently.