Abstract

This work addresses the strategy of AES Corporation (AES Chivor) in order to extend the life of La Esmeralda reservoir to support Colombia’s future energy demand. Chivor Hydropower Plant entered into service in 1978 and has a capacity of 1000 MW, 8 % of Colombia’s demand. It is first described how the Colombian electricity energy mix is composed. Then, La Esmeralda reservoir, which is used by Chivor for power generation, is described; sediment management plans and maintenance costs for equipment and infrastructure are addressed. Then, sediment dynamics studies that have been done in order to determine life expectancy of La Esmeralda reservoir are listed. Such studies have been used to execute the Chivor’s Life Extension Project, which considers the modification of intakes as the best option to extend the life of the reservoir for at least 50 years, among several alternatives that were evaluated by a panel of international experts. This represents a challenge from the engineering point of view, and the project will be shown as a successful example for a country with such dependence on hydropower generation. Modernizing existing infrastructure without affecting the operation, as in this case, is crucial to show how a sustainable sediment management plan and technological development are necessary to extend life of hydropower generation projects, and to help meeting energy demand in a sustainable way for countries such as Colombia with a growing economy.

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