Venezuelan electrical system and its vulnerabilities.

in Project HOPE8 months ago

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Venezuela's electrical system is composed of hydroelectric and thermoelectric plants, although there are also wind power plants, these are not taken into account since they are not operational. The hydroelectric plants are formed or grouped in eight large complexes which are mentioned according to their generation capacity The Guri, Caruachi and Macagua, on the Caroní River in the State of Bolivar, these three large hydroelectric plants generate 15,000 megawatts (MW), becoming the country's power generation pole.

The other five hydroelectric plants are located in the Andean Zone, which are Planta Páez, San Agatón, La Vueltosa (Uribante-Caparo), Peña Larga and Masparro, which have an installed generation capacity of approximately 1,100 megawatts (MW). There are also thermoelectric plants which use fuels (gas, diesel and fuel oil), where their installed capacity generates approximately 19,000 megawatts (MW).

In order to achieve the transmission of electricity, Venezuela has a transmission system which is integrated by more than 24,000 kilometers of high voltage lines, in addition to approximately 400 substations and more than 100,000 kilometers of distribution networks that make electric energy reach all users. It is important to note that in order for all this electrical equipment to work properly, the entire system must undergo continuous maintenance, repairs and updates so that electricity can reach all the users of the country without any inconvenience.

Venezuela used to have one of the best electrical systems in Latin America, but due to the lack of investment in this sector, it has presented endless problems that have resulted in deficiencies in the service and today it is in a critical state, since a large part of the national territory has suffered four mega blackouts where more than 90% of the country has been without electrical service for more than 72 hours, affecting the entire productive and operational system of the country.

Among the most notorious problems observed in the national electric system is the lack of generation with respect to the maximum demand, this situation has led the state-owned company Corporación Eléctrica Nacional (CORPOELEC) to ration the service, so that in this way the generation load can be maintained and a failure that affects the national territory does not occur again. At present, the states most affected by these rationings are the states that make up the western and Andean regions of the country (Zulia, Lara, Falcón, Trujillo, Mérida, Táchira, Barinas and Apure).

Venezuela has the great challenge of being able to recover and stabilize the national electric system, essential for the economic and social development of the country, and thus be able to face more effectively the humanitarian emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to recover and stabilize the electrical system, it is not enough to make a substantial investment of billions of dollars, but a comprehensive strategic plan must also be implemented that includes all the components of the electrical system, i.e., generation, transmission, distribution and commercialization.

In addition, in order for this recovery to be fully effective, there must be private sector participation as it was years ago. In order for this participation to be possible, a transparent legal framework must be established to ensure investors the necessary political and legal guarantees. Another important aspect is that in the medium term the electricity system should be economically and financially sustainable, for this a tariff system should be established to cover operating costs and new investments.

Reference Consulted

  • AVIEM (2019): «AVIEM presente en el Plan País». Revista Energía e Industria de la AVIEM (Asociación Venezolana de Ingeniería Eléctrica, Mecánica y Profesiones Afines). 2. Número 6. Junio.
  • Lara, M. y Aguilar, J. G. (2018): «Acciones para la recuperación y modernización del sector eléctrico en Venezuela». Grupo Ricardo Zuloaga.

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