In Bolivia, six hours away from the largest town in the vicinity, Sacyr is building the geothermal plant at the highest altitude in the world, at 4,970 meters above sea level.
This plant is expected to begin operations next April and it will be operated and maintained by the joint venture Sacyr-Ormat for two years.
The Laguna Colorada Geothermal Plant, which started construction in 2019, is in the Sud Lípez province (Bolivia), in a natural area called Reserva de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, south of the Department of Potosí. This location is known as Campo Sol de Mañana, due to the field of geysers surrounding the project site.
The pilot plant will have a 5 MW power capacity, thanks to the steam extracted from geothermal wells in the ground at 1,490 meters deep. The goals of this facility combine social and economic development aspects:
• To provide the small local communities in the influence area of the project with a steady power supply. Currently, these communities approximately have only four hours of power per day, thanks to diesel-powered generators.
• To assess the technical results of this technology to develop a plant with a 100 MW power capacity. If this turns viable, the 5 MW plant will supply the power necessary to build the new plant.
A temporary settlement called Campamento Base Vida Sacyr Laguna Colorada was built to create this plant. This settlement has basic services like lodging, a mess hall, kitchen, medical service, laundry, a purification plant, a waste water treatment plant and satellite communication services.
“Building these facilities is an authentic logistical challenge that the Sacyr Bolivia team has managed to overcome with great work and team effort”, explains Miguel Lorente Quesada, director of this project at Sacyr Industrial.
The area is immense and with little population. The indigenous communities in this area amount to no more than 2,500 inhabitants.
“We have an accommodation capacity for 150 people in normal conditions. It is not easy due to how isolated it is and the height factors (lack of oxygen, wind, cold and snow). The low temperatures and strong winds are the worst part. It is always windy and the temperature in Winter drops to -20 ºC, but in the Summer we reach -5 ºC”, says the head of the project.
Sacyr has grasped and internalized the way of life of these local communities and has established a collaboration and participation program with the residents.
“We are guests in the lands of the people of Quetena Chico, which is why we will maintain close collaboration and communication with this Quechua community, with whom we have already established a good symbiosis, by hiring locals and contracting services such as food distribution and others, generating wealth, development and a better quality of life for their inhabitants”, explains Miguel Lorente Quesada.
The joint Venture Sacyr-Ormat has designed a binary cycle power plant that is respectful of the environment to uphold the esteem and importance that the local indigenous communities give to the Pachamama, Mother Earth. The facility is hermetic, as the steam and brine produced in the generation of power is not released back in the spot, but 3 km away from the well that the steam is extracted from.
This way we ensure that the steam well can constantly recharge itself, guaranteeing permanent power supply.