Latin lender funds Colombia's 19.9-MW El Molino, 19.9-MW San Matias hydro projects

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The Inter-American Investment Corp. (IIC) has approved a US$12 million loan for development, construction and operation of the 19.9-MW El Molino and 19.9-MW San Matias hydroelectric projects on Colombia's San Matias River.

The project developer, PCHS Los Molinos S.A.S. E.S.P., was formed by Panama renewable energy company Lareif in 2012 to develop the two small run-of-river hydro projects. Upon commercial operation in 2016, the two plants are to generate a combined 244 GWh annually from Colombia's Antioquia Department.

"With this operation, the IIC will be supporting the development of small-scale hydroelectric projects in Colombia through long-term financing," said Olga Lucia de Narvaez, lead investment officer for IIC, a unit of the Inter-American Development Bank. "Furthermore, the project will increase the country's installed capacity of energy generation and will provide additional energy at a very low cost to meet growing demand."

Voith Hydro signed a contract last year to supply four Francis horizontal turbines and four generators, in addition to governors, automation systems, and engineering, installation and commissioning supervision services for El Molino and San Matias. The plants are to be built and operated by HMV Ingenieros.

The projects will be built in cascade form, meaning the same water that passes through the first plant will be reprocessed to produce power at the second downstream, reducing environmental effects.

U.S. developer Hydro Alternative Energy Inc. and Colombia's Generamos Energia SA ESP agreed in June to develop one or more run-of-the-river hydroelectric plants in Colombia.

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