Ecuador is to invest US$300M annually to build new hydroelectric plants to gain a bigger share of the energy sector as demand grows 7% per year, according to the Government’s plans.

The investments will be part of a programme to give the state more control over the national power system and is to be funded by oil revenues. Private sector involvement in the hydropower development programme will also see the companies have to help finance projects.

The list of proposed projects consists of eight schemes that will boost capacity by a total of almost 2800MW by the end of 2015. The biggest of the planned schemes is Coca Codo Sinclair (about 1500MW), which is estimated to cost about US$1.59B.

Other projects included in the programme are: Sopladora (400MW, estimated to cost US$400M); Minas Jubones (335M, US$552M); Toachi Pilaton (228MW, US$452M); Chespi (167MW, US$275M); Baeza (60MW, US$105M); Quijos (50MW, US$88M); and Ocana (26MW, US$37M). The first project is due to be completed in four years.

By about 2012 the country plans to have hydroelectricity as the dominant energy resource for most of the grid, which would be an increase of more than six percentage points from the current 44% and against a growing overall asset base that is having to expand by about 220MW annually to meet rising demand.

However, the proportion will still be down on the share enjoyed by hydro in the last decade when 80% of the electricity was produced by the resource.