Costa Rica News – The Costa Rican Institute for Electricity (ICE) is making the most of the maintenance works planned for this month in the Cachí reservoir to connect a new tunnel. The addition will allow up to an extra 60 megawatts of energy to be generated.
The planned works will involve the installation of floodgates, valves and grilles at either end of the tunnel. The tunnel itself, which is 6km long and 5m wide, is located in the district of Cachí de Paraíso, and Túcurrique de Jiménez, in the Cartago province.
The works are part of a project to extend the Cachí water plant. Construction and planning began in 2010 and it’s set to become functional at the start of 2015.
The electricity generated through the extension will benefit as many as 71,000 new homes, as well as reducing fuel usage in the dry season.
Alberto Ramírez, director of ICE’s Energy Production sector, explained that it was necessary to empty the reservoir in order to install the floodgates which will regulate the amount of water coming through piping, and the valves which will allow the gradual movement of that water to the appropriate generator. The grilles can then be used to filter the flow of water.
“With the reservoir full, you can’t join up the tunnel to make a connection with the rest of the plant. The only way to do it is to remove the water”, said the Director. The process began on the 27th August.
The estimation is that the works on either side of the new channel will be completed on or by the 16th October. From that date, they will be restoring the water level in the reservoir, a process which could take up to 6 weeks. Nevertheless, ICE is insisting that within 8 days, there will be enough water for one of the plant’s three generators to start working again.
“We do this sort of work in the rainy season to ensure minimal impact on electricity production”, commented Ramírez.
The director went on to say that in November, they would start testing out the tunnel, and that they hope it will be ready for full use by mid-February 2015.
The Cachí Lake can hold 38 million cubic metres of water. The Arenal Lake, in between Tilarán, San Carlos and San Ramón can hold 2,400 million cubic meters of water.
Translated by Leah Hendre from La Nacion