Bolivia is a regional powerhouse; both as the region’s fastest growing economy and – despite being geographically dwarfed by Argentina and Brazil – a source of natural gas to its larger neighbours. The country has ambitions to expand its energy exports beyond raw commodities to electricity too; a plan closely tied to its development agenda.
Working with the country’s largest utility - the company Ende Andina SAM - Siemens is supporting these plans, working alongside Spanish consortium partner TSK to deliver the biggest power expansion project in Bolivia’s history.
As Ende Andina’s project lead Ramiro Becerra Flores puts it: “Bolivia’s objective is to generate an exportable energy surplus in a way that safeguards the environment; i.e. both efficiently, and allowing renewable energies to play a role. “
He adds: “Because of Bolivia’s geographical location, this surplus power can be distributed to any of the five countries that border on Bolivia. With further development of the country’s transmission system, Bolivia could potentially become a country with interconnections to non-bordering countries as well; integrating itself in the energy industry regionally.“
Two main interconnection projects are currently being negotiated: a 7500 MW connection to Brazil and a two-stage project with Argentina that will see a 120 MW power plant in a first stage, feeding into the country’s transmission system at 500 kilovolts. As a longstanding partner of Ende Andina and supporter of Bolivia’s efforts to expand electricity coverage across the nation, Siemens is integral to these efforts, including through the provision of transformers for the network.
A long-term relationship
Ramiro Becerra Flores notes: “Siemens is not only a technological ally of Ende Andina; it has been a long-term ally that has supported a long-term relationship from an operational point of view. Currently Ende Andina’s entire generator park is under long-term maintenance contracts with Siemens, and work is being done on the projects’ turbines under these contracts.”
This includes the conversion of simple cycle gas turbines to combined cycle; adding 11 SST-400 steam turbines with condensers, cooling towers, additional generator step-up transformers, and water treatment systems, along with SPPA-T3000 control systems to convert Bolivia’s Termoeléctrica del Sur, Termoeléctrica de Warnes and Termoeléctrica Entre Rios sites.
Can Bolivia’s grid handle the huge expansion underway? With support from partners like Siemens, Ende Andina is confident the capacity is there.
Ramiro Becerra Flores says: “Development of the National Interconnected System, the country’s transmission system, has been underway since 2008. One of Bolivia’s main goals is to increase the coverage of basic electrical supply, which is recognized as a right in the national constitution. In addition to this goal, the country is industrializing, through projects such as lithium plants, urea plants, the metals industry, and iron deposits.
He adds: “These projects have already required an expansion of the transmission system, and thus it is not expected that the combined cycle generation projects will experience any difficulties with the power grid – technical advice from Siemens has been highly useful to the efforts”.
As 11 cutting edge Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSGs) made by Siemens’ NEM – the Netherlands-based leader in heat transfer technology – begin to arrive in Bolivia after a journey of over 20,000 km from their factory in China, it’s good to know Bolivia’s energy expansion is in the capable hands of a partner like Ende Andina.
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