28 August 2003 – The Caruachi Hydroelectric Project under construction in southeastern Venezuela has reached two milestones, as the first two GE Hydro turbine-generators installed at the site have entered commercial service. Unit one began service on schedule and unit two came on line a month ahead of the contract completion date.
The 180 MW Kaplan turbine-generators are among 12 GE Hydro units scheduled to be installed and commissioned over the next three years for the Caruachi project, which will total 2160 MW when it is completed. One of the world’s largest hydro projects currently under construction, it is located on the Caroni River, approximately 35 kilometers from the confluence of the Caroni and Orinoco Rivers at Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela.
In addition to the power station, the Caruachi project includes a dam and reservoir, bringing the total project cost to an estimated $1.5bn. The Caruachi project is the third hydroelectric complex undertaken by the state-owned utility, C.V.G. Electrificación del Caroní, C.S. (EDELCA) of Caracas.
After a competitive tendering process, EDELCA awarded the contract for the design, supply and installation of the main electro-mechanical plant to a consortium of Kvaerner of Norway, GE Canada and Elin Transormatoren GmbH of Austria. The contract has a total value of $500 million and is financed by multiple bilateral loans principally from export credit agencies in Europe and North America.
Major work on this contract began in 1998. Following GE’s acquisition of Kvaerner’s hydro business in 1999, over 90 per cent of the Caruachi contract now is being carried out by GE Hydro, including all aspects of the design, supply and installation of the turbines, generators, governors, exciters and cranes. Consortium partners are supplying power transformers and ancillary equipment.
The principal components were designed and manufactured by members of the consortium. Including the subcontractors for the project, materials, components and services have been supplied from 16 countries. Major fabrications and other items have been supplied by Venezuelan companies.
“Caruachi is an excellent example of GE Hydro’s total project capability,” said Paul Lazenby, GE consortium director. “GE Hydro facilities in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland and the U.K. all have been significantly involved in the design and supply of the equipment. Installation and project and financial management of the contract also have been provided by GE Hydro.
“In addition to the technical, manufacturing and installation challenges normally associated with such major components, the extended duration of the contract and the number of units also have been significant factors in the execution of the project,” he added.
Shipping of equipment to the Caruachi site began in 1998 and now is approximately 90 per cent completed. Installation of the hydro turbines began in the same year and is approximately 50 per cent completed.