From yo-yos to hydroelectric power

Las Perlas Sur Powerhouse

The American idiom "soup to nuts" might have competition from "yo-yos to hydroelectric power" if turbine manufacturer Mavel and project developed Hidrotenencias S.A. have anything to say about it.

What started with a few children's toys in Montreal, Canada, at HydroVision International 2004 eventually turned into the 30-MW Piedra River Cascade, which was recently completed with the official commissioning of the 10-MW Las Perlas Sur hydropower plant in June. The cascade project is located along the Piedra River in Panama's Chiriqui Province.

"The commissioning culminates more than eight years of successful collaboration between Hidrotenencias and our turbine supplier Mavel," Hidrotenencias President and CEO Alejandro Hanono said.

Hanono first became acquainted with Czech-American company Mavel after traveling to HydroVision International 2004 in search of potential equipment suppliers for his company's first hydroelectric project.

There, he not only found the manufacturer he was looking for, but also some souvenirs to take back home to Panama City.

"I met the full management team of the company and was impressed by their success throughout Europe competing against much larger companies," Hanono said. "I also walked away with a few Czech-made wooden yo-yos for my children back home."

A year later, Hidrotenencias signed an agreement with Mavel and a consortium of other equipment suppliers to firnish the turbines, generators, control systems, gates, hydraulics and installation supervisory services for the Piedra River Cascade project's first generating site.

That project, the 10-MW Concepcion, was commissioned in January 2009.

"The conception project was a teacher for us," Hanono said. "There were some delays with civil construction and other equipment suppliers, but Mavel helped us navigate through the process and resolve the issue."

Hanono said the relationship his company built while developing the Concepcion project allowed it to negotiate directly with Mavel for the Piedra River Cascade's remaining powerhouses.

Named Las Perlas Norte and Las Perlas Sur, each plant was supplied by Mavel with inlet valves, turbines, generators with fly-wheels, hydraulic pressure and lubrication units, plant controls and switchgears, and supervision of installation, testing and commissioning.

Though construction of the Piedra River Cascade project is complete, the companies' relationship continues as Mavel will use its remote monitoring and diagnostic system to evaluate the plants from its engineering base in the Czech Republic.

"The successful completion of these three projects was the result of a strong partnership and working relationship with Hidrotenencias and its CEO," said Rostislav Pospisil, Mavel Sales and Technical Director for the Americas. "When we started working with Mr. Hanono, he was just beginning to understand some of the complexities of developing a hydroelectric power site. Now, he knows more than many of our customers and consultants who have been in the businesses 20, even 30 or more years."

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