Cóndor Cliff  – La Barrancosa

The hydroelectric exploitations of the Santa Cruz River, located in the province of the same name, constitute a distinguished project in public infrastructure, very important in terms of promotion of renewable energy policies, carried out by the National State.

The Secretariat of Electric Power (a Principal in these undertakings) of the Ministry of Energy and Mining of the State has assigned to the Sub-secretariat of Hydroelectric Energy the role of Work M and it has required Ebisa to create a specialized interdisciplinary team of technical support for the supervision. The contractor, represented by the Joint Venture Represas Patagonia, which comprises the companies China Gezhouba Group Company, Electroingeniería S.A. and Hidrocuyo S.A., is responsible for carrying out the works, as it has won the call for the National and International Tender No. 02/2012.

An integral revision of the engineering project of the works has been carried out to build an Executive Project that provides appropriate international standards and that enhances the sustainability of the works.

The Santa Cruz River, where the exploitations are placed, is the third in volume of water in Argentina, and it goes throughout the province from west to east for 385 km, from the Argentine side to the mouth of the river in the sea. The river is part of a glacial basin that feeds two big lakes, Viedma and Lago Argentino, which provide the river with a natural regulation and give it a long term predictability to their provision, and thus, they make it possible to structure a hydropower project that promotes regional development.

The exploitation comprises two dams (Cóndor Cliff and La Barrancosa) which, together, will have an installed power of 1310 MW (data after the changes made in the specification project), thus, resulting in one of the most important in national hydropower.

Its average annual generation (5171 GWh), if it was generated through conventional thermal stations, would emit 2.5 megatonnes of CO2 annually (greenhouse gases). This volume reduction of 2.5% would allow the compliancy with the Argentine proposal in the Paris Agreement. In parallel with the reduction of emissions, 2.6 million m3 of daily equivalent natural gas would be saved (2% of current national consumption).

Aprovechamientos hidroeléctricos Cóndor Cliff – La Barrancosa

Exploitation Reservoir Level Installed Power Energy that can be Generated Reservoir Area
Cóndor Cliff 176 mamsl 950 MW 3268 GWh/year 23 581 ha
La Barrancosa 114 mamsl 360 MW 1903 GWh/year 18 966 ha
TOTAL 1310 MW 5171 GWh/year 42 817 ha

Project’s History

The project of the hydropower exploitations over the Santa Cruz River has a long history. The beginnings of the project go back to the 20s, when Agua y Energía Eléctrica were in charge of the project. Between 1948 and 1980, a series of preliminary studies and projects were completed.

However, it was not until this decade that the project was resumed and a breakthrough was made over an alternative option with two technical, economical and environmentally viable exploitations.

In particular, the new project guarantees the no interference of the reservoir located upstream over the Lago Argentino and the no disturbance of the glacial basin that originates it.

In August 2015, on request of the National State through the ex Secretariat of Electric Power, a Principal in the works, the Contractor drafted and submitted the Environmental Impact Assessment Study (EIA) of the project, in accordance with the requirements of assessment of environmental impact of the province of Santa Cruz. The study was assessed by the Assessment Committee of the EIA, which issued the technical opinion in November 2015. After its conference at the public hearing, the then Sub-secretariat of Environmental Planning placed on record that the project complies with the provisions of the Provincial Law 2658 and its Regulatory Decree 007/06, and thus, passed the Environmental Impact Declaration (DIA) 2049 on December 9, 2015, valid for a year, which posed the need to make some additional adjustments and studies.

At the beginning of 2016, the project was submitted to a thorough assessment by the Ministry of Energy and Mining, resulting in an optimization of the technical aspects of the executive project, many of which result in environmental consequences that significantly minimize the negative impacts of the former project. Among the most distinguished technical aspects of the optimized project there is the combined form of operation foreseen for the stations. The exploitation La Barrancosa will work as a run-of-river plant, and will ensure that the river volume from there to the estuary is not affected during the operation of the system of dams.

From an environmental point of view, some work was done on the monitoring of actions and steps applied by the project, with the Ministry of Environmental Planning and Sustainable Development as consultant, which resulted in the expansion of the additional baseline information and studies. At the beginning of 2016, after two local reports were prepared by the Contractor and by the National University of La Plata, the Ministry of Energy and Mining entrusted the Engineer Ascensio Lara with a third independent study, which result guarantees the maintenance of the natural regime of variation of the Lago Argentino levels, which, in turn, helps insure that the glaciers of the west region of the lake shall not be affected by the dynamic operation of the reservoir.

Lastly, some amendments were made to the current contract, placed today on a sustainability, predictability and transparency framework.

Ebisa has played a support role in the Monitoring and it has participated in the technical adjustments of the project. In December, 2016, the Supreme Court of Argentina allowed a legal action, until the process of assessment of environmental impact and hearing set forth in Law No. 23,879 is implemented.

In this context, the Secretariat of Electric Power entrusted Ebisa with the preparation of the EsIA for the purpose of complying with the aforementioned decision. Once the study was prepared and submitted to the provincial ministries (Ministry of Production and Secretariat of Environment) and the national ministries (Ministry of Energy and Mining and Ministry of Environmental Planning and Sustainable Development), said ministries granted the project feasibility and submitted the same to the Congress of the Argentine Nation, so that they would summon the Public Hearing that took place on July 20 and 21, 2017.

Once the public hearing took place, the legislators of both chambers, through their respective chairmen, prepared a joint final report that approved the feasibility of the exploitations (Joint Resolution No. 3).

In this context, the National State promotes a tool that ensures the so sought environmental sustainability of the project, with the consent and the approval of the four participant governmental levels, based on a coordinated interdepartmental work.


Vientos de la Patagonia I contribuye y asiste al abastecimiento energético de la Argentina con fuentes de energía limpia y no agotable.