Government-owned power company, Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), is building the largest hydropower development in Central America. It has also led to the country’s largest ever order for construction equipment.
In the 16th century the famous explorer Christopher Columbus christened Costa Rica ‘the rich coast’ after meeting natives adorned in gold and jewels. The country, known for its environmental awareness, is bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south and on either side by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Costa Rican Electricity Institute’s (ICE) hydropower plant, with a completion date of 2016, is located south east of Siquirres city in the province of Limon and will provide electricity to more than half a million homes in the region – equating to some 11% of domestic demand. In producing 305.5MW of power, it will support the Costa Rican government’s announced plans for it to become the world’s first carbon-neutral country by 2021.
With the help of 40 Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) A40F articulated haulers, 20 million m3 (706 million ft3) of soil will be moved during construction. The dam is being built across a spectacular 90 miles (145km) of the Reventazón River, which flows from the heart of the Talamanca mountain range through tropical forests to the Caribbean Sea. In its upper segments, the Reventazón River provides 25% of the drinking water for Costa Rica's largest metropolitan area and is already important for power generation.
The dam will be 537 meters (1762ft) wide and 130 meters (427ft) tall. A one mile (1.68km) water tunnel will be built between the dam and the powerhouse with its four turbines, as well as a network of roads and supporting infrastructure.
To date, over a quarter of the soil at the worksite – some five million m3 (177 million ft3) has been excavated and moved. As part of the deal, Maquinaria Agricola de Costa Rica (Macori) – Volvo CE’s regional dealership – has established a temporary branch on site, consisting of a service workshop and parts inventory to support the fleet of Volvos working on the project.
“ICE already knew a lot about our Volvo A40F haulers before we won the contract,” says Alvaro Ochoa, Volvo CE’s area manager for Central America and the Caribbean, who joined the company in 2007. “Our machines already have a good reputation in the region but one of ICE’s key on-site contractors is a big customer of ours and he was already using Volvos. This made it easy for ICE to monitor the machines’ performance and fuel efficiency before placing a large order. Another key factor was how happy the operators were with the machines.”
In total, there are about 250 construction machines currently working on the project, around a third of which are Volvos, including some large excavators owned by sub-contractors.
Famous for being beautiful
The country has a good record in terms of human development, social equality and environmental sustainability.