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The Yacyretá Hydroelectric Complex, located in Argentina, returned to generating at full power after more than two years in which its capacity was significantly limited by the historic fall of the Paraná River, which reduces the pressure on the rest of the electrical park, in particular of the thermal power plants of the system.

Thus, in the last week, the largest electricity generating unit in the Latin American country reached a “Maximum Instantaneous Power” of over 3,000 MW thanks to the commissioning of the 20 generating units it owns and the increase in the flow in the Paraná River, according to the activity statistics regularly published by the entity.

In this way, the Hydroelectric Power Plant made available to the demand of the electrical systems of Argentina and Paraguay all of its installed power, at times of high seasonal demand.

The rapid repercussion of the rains in the tributary basin of the binational dam is reflected almost immediately in the generation capacity, which explains that of the 31,831 Mhw of daily energy that Yacyretá delivered to Cammesa as of May 29, it jumped to more double in two days with 64,448 Mwh, this June 1.

The historical hydrological situation of the last two years complicated the drinking water supply of some populations, in addition to reducing the navigability of rivers, port operations and various productive activities.

In the case of electric power, it was particularly affected by the largest hydroelectric dams, which saw their generation capacity reduced by 50%, as happened in Yacyretá, on the Paraná River; in Salto Grande, on the Uruguay River; and in Chocón, in Patagonia, with the Limay River.

Thus, when hydroelectricity decreases due to the scarce contribution of rains, it affects hydroelectricity, thermal generation increases, which can burn natural gas or liquid fuels such as diesel or fuel oil, and wind and solar sources also gain participation, so that a greater contribution from dams, reduces that pressure.

“The growth or decrease in generation is mainly justified by the increase or decrease in the water supply, as it is a run-of-the-river power plant, which does not have the capacity to manage the resource,” industry sources explained when analyzing the Yacyretá case.

This performance of the largest hydroelectric dam in Argentina is achieved after a period of historical downflow of the Paraná River starting in the second half of 2019 characterized by lower than normal rainfall in the Yacyretá basin, a trend that was accentuated in in 2020, turning out to be the fifth driest year since 1961. The rainfall deficit mostly ranged between 20% and 60% compared to the values ​​considered normal.

In the year 2021, rains below normal occurred in most of the center-west and south of Patagonia, the provinces of the north, the Litoral region, north and south of Buenos Aires and part of the NOA, in Argentina. The provinces of Chaco, Corrientes, Formosa and Misiones, like other sectors of the country, were affected by drought, a situation that made 2021 the thirteenth driest year since 1961.

In this context, the recent rains gave a significant improvement to the hydrological situation of Yacyretá. “The rate of change depends on the area in which the rains occur, but in general they are rapid changes, which are reflected in the same way in the hydraulic operation of the reservoir, which requires it to respect instructions with established limits. That is It also justifies the rapid variation of the offer towards the SADI”, they explained from the binational entity.

A singularity was added to the above, in the sense that the maintenance plan allowed having a temporary window with the 20 units at full power for a few days, coinciding with a period of high demand from the SADI due to low temperatures. , taking advantage for this purpose of the hydric pulse caused by the rains that were verified mostly in the most immediate contribution basins to the reservoir.

The operation of the upstream reservoir system is focused on meeting the needs of the electrical systems they serve. After the critical situation of 2021, during 2022 they have been reinforcing reserves, which will have – as a by-product – a better water supply downstream.

For the coming months, the monitoring of climate scenarios is important, to define possible ranges of water supply, in combination with the factor mentioned above. In this regard, it was considered that “the greatest probabilities are in the sense that in this 2022 critical situations as sustained and prolonged as those of 2021 will not be verified..

Maintenance activities follow a cadence that depends on the number of operating hours of the equipment and the technical possibilities and available resources to be able to attend to a certain maximum number of units. From there arises the possible program that combines these factors.

On the other hand, the Plan for the rehabilitation and modernization of generation assets is progressing, which continues in those segments whose programmed provisions allow it, for which an increase in activities is expected from the last quarter of 2022, and great activity during the year 2023.

Looking upstream, the reservoir system located in the Paraná River basin, in Brazilian territory, has a current weighted storage of around 72%, having evolved positively since the beginning of 2022.

The tributary flows to Yacyretá increased as a result of the rainfall registered as of May 25 in the immediate intermediate basin to the Yacyretá reservoir and in the Iguazú river basin, whose accumulated amounts were in the order of 160mm.

The average flow for the month of May 2022 was 9,200m 3 /s, considering the 1901-2021 series, this flow value is in twenty-first place and represents 74% of the average flow for the same month (12,455m 3 /s).


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