COCHABAMBA, Bolivia – China is willing to help Bolivia reach its goal of becoming South America’s electricity hub, the Asian nation’s ambassador to La Paz said on Wednesday during the inauguration of a hydroelectric plant.
China wants to “expand cooperation in the hydroelectric area to make Bolivia the true energy heart of South America,” Liang Yu said in the presence of Bolivian President Evo Morales.
The plant, known as San Jose I, was built by Chinese state-owned hydropower engineering company Sinohydro in the central province of Cochabamba at a cost of $139 million.
Chinese companies participate in several projects being undertaken by the Bolivian government, including road construction; sugar, potassium and steel plants; a public safety system upgrade; and telecommunications.
Bolivia, which expects to produce 3,000 megawatts (MW) by executing several hydroelectric projects, has set a goal of exporting 1,000 MW of electricity by 2020.
Morales said Wednesday’s inauguration of San Jose 1 had added 55 MW to the Andean nation’s electric generating capacity, which previously had totaled 2,100 MW.
The president noted that at times of greatest demand Bolivia consumes 1,500 MW and that surplus amounts could be exported.
The San Jose project consists of two plants: the 55-MW power station inaugurated Wednesday and a second that will add an additional 69 MW to Bolivia’s National Interconnected System (SIN).
The inauguration of the first stage comes three and a half years after Bolivian firm Guaracachi, a unit of state-owned electric utility ENDE, signed a contract for the project with Sinohydro in June 2014.