Argentina has confirmed a plan to increase annual energy production at the Yacyretá binacional hydroelectric project.

The increased energy production is to be achieved by raising the operating elevation of Yacyretá reservoir to the designed level, and also by energy production from the proposed Ana Cua river hydro project. Currently, Yacyretá is being operated at an elevation approximately 8m below the design value, until all residents living in the designated flooded area are evacuated.

The new construction is to be undertaken with private financing, to be paid off by earnings from future power production. Last year, Yacyretá provided 11,860GWh to the Sistema Argentino de Interconexion, an amount equivalent to about 15% of the total demand of electricity in the country. With the proposed new works, Yacyreta is expected to generate over 22,000GWh, equivalent to 28% of the present electricity consumption in Argentina.

Yacyretá dam extends over a length of approximately 64km across a series of islands in the Paraná river, which forms the border between Paraguay and Argentina. Work began in 1983 with electricity production getting under way in 1994. But, due to disputes over the resettlement of residents in the area flooded by the dam, the project is functioning at only 60% of its planned capacity.

Raising the operating level at Yacyretá requires the relocation of 4600 homes in Argentina and 6024 in Paraguay. The Ana Cua project involves the construction of a dam and a power house in the mouth of the Aguapey stream.

Paraguay and Argentina are also reconsidering plans to build another binacional project – the Corpus dam, which will be located upstream of Yacyretá.

The proposal must first be approved by voters in the Argentine province of Misiones later this year. Argentina and Paraguay expect to sell the power from the new project to power starved Brazil.

If the project is approved construction is expected to be undertaken on a build, operate, transfer basis with private funding.