Latin America Advisor

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Is Erosion Putting Power Supply at Risk in Ecuador?

The risk of erosion at the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant has prompted Ecuadorean state utility CELEC to revamp thermal power plants as backup. // File Photo: CELEC.

Ecuadorean state power utility CELEC announced in August that it will earmark $80 million to revamp thermal power plants that are currently offline in order for them to provide backup electricity supply as erosion puts the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant at risk. Meanwhile, the government’s new electricity plan for 2031 included updates that allow for the incorporation of about 1.4 gigawatts of nonconventional renewable energy capacity in addition to what is already set to start operations within that period. How big of a risk does erosion pose to the Coca Codo Sinclair facility, and what potential consequences could it bring for electricity supply in the Andean nation? What are the benefits and drawbacks of bringing thermal power plants back online as backup, and could they effectively fill in any gap left by the Coca Codo Sinclair plant? What is the state of Ecuador’s renewables sector, and what is the outlook for the sector during President Guillermo Lasso’s administration?

Eduardo Rosero Rhea, president of the Ecuadorean Association of Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (AEEREE): “The regressive erosion of the Coca River is a latent risk for the water collection works at the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant, taking into account that its annual generation contribution to the electricity matrix is more than a quarter. In addition, on May 1, repairs and maintenance began on four of the plant’s eight turbines for a period of 100 days, which has reduced the plant’s available power by half. In 2016, the government largely displaced expensive thermal generation due to its operating costs. According to CELEC, this installed thermal capacity should be actively reincorporated into the country’s electricity supply. The government of President Guillermo Lasso has…”

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A sister publication of the Inter-American Dialogue’s daily Latin America Advisor, the weekly Energy Advisor captures fresh analysis from business leaders and government officials on the most important developments in oil and gas, biofuels, the power sector, renewables, new technologies, and the policy debates shaping the future of energy in the Western Hemisphere and beyond. To subscribe or for more information, contact Erik Brand, publisher of the Advisor, at

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