The electric crisis is about to get worse

represa-guri-2An excellent, alarming piece by César Batiz in Clímax highlights the coming gloom for Venezuelans: Guri, the country’s most important dam, is not getting enough water. The dry period is about to begin, and thermal plants do not have enough installed capacity available. After a reported $38 billion spent on revamping the country’s electricity generating sector (Derwick gets a mention), we are about to enter a dark, grim period in our history.

The experts consulted argue that this is worse than the drought of 2009, when Chávez mistakenly claimed it was the worst drought in history. The stand-out part for me:

“Lara (former Planning Manager for Guri) specifies that between May and September, the dam receives 75% of its water. But evidently, according to the Minister’s own words, this did not happen because “The Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Generating Plant is eight meters below the level it had in January of 2014.” This is bad news, because the first month of the year is also one of the driest.”

The piece is in Spanish, but it is well worth your read.

42 thoughts on “The electric crisis is about to get worse

  1. I dunno, there’s an alarmist edge here, and an absence of hedging.

    You need to hedge this stuff. It might rain. It’s rained before, in the nick of time, just when it looked bad. This is a contingent crisis, and making it sound like a sure thing is to compromise your credibility needlessly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually, wait just one minute:

    Como lo vieron los ingenieros de la empresa estadounidense Harza, entre 1950 y 1964, en Guayana el ciclo de sequía no es mayor a 32 meses y lo será así al menos por los próximos mil años o hasta que el planeta deje de ser el que conocemos hoy.

    Is Batiz totally insane?


    • It is just a guy that has no idea how flow duration curves are built and how reservoirs are designed.

      The point in the article prevails. Gury and its reservoir was designed to meet certain demand. Let me remind you that it was built several decades ago thinking that the governments of the future would keep up with the country’s growing energy demand. The government of the future failed.

      The new exacerbated demands placed on gury make it so that not a 100 year drought (statistically rare) but a much more frequent drought can compromise its operation. Which is the point of the article.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not quite sure qhat you’re getting at, but we’ve most definitely left behind “el planeta que conocemos hoy” of the 1950s and 1960s

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Here we go with the alarmist pictures of Guri. We are playing the blame-the-nature game about the power generation problems. There is enough water, if you check the historic water levels we are in a good place right now. The real problem is power distribution maintenance and illegal plugs that are killing the system, not the amount of rain we got this year.
    Last time Chavez said it was the worst drought on history, why? To transfer the blame to nature. Are they building the case again? Of course, we have elections next year.


    • “illegal plugs”
      Remember that those are not illegal, they’re from the pueblo mejmo, the same “pueblo” that smuggles with basic basket goods and this government keeps defending, and the same “pueblo” that “bienandros” come from.
      As usual, it’s all the fault of the “maricas sifrinas” of the fascist opposition.


  4. The sad part of this, is that yet again another opportunity to create a more sustainable energy sector will go down the drain.

    With the gas prices being practically free, industries, commercial and residential will opt for diesel-gens instead of anything else. That will, in return, create more pollution and apply even more strain in an already massive gas subsidy budget.


    • Rest assured.
      Because the electric generators either can’t be found in Venezuela, or are so ridiculously expensive that almost no one would be able to afford them.
      Also, remember we’re on the verge of a massive gasoline shortage too, so there won’t be any gas to feed such generators.


  5. 601.7mm of rain fall upon London on average in a year.
    1118.9mm of rain fall upon Valencia upon Cabriales in the same period, whether you believe it or not.
    We could have the crisis or we might not have it.


      • Good question. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer.
        Data from Venezuela seems to be pretty scarce. The data comes from Wikipedia.

        I still found this piece of trivia from a German book from 1920 – with some old data from 1910 because of the war- (my translation):
        “Rainfall average for Guyana is about 1700mm, rainy months are from May to end of November. Rains are less in the North (Northern Guayana) and they are only about 1000 mm for Ciudad Bolívar.”
        Curiously, the quantity for Caracas back then seems similar to the one in Wikipedia even if the average temperature of Cajigal has risen by 3 C°

        A version of the German book can be found here
        but there is a Google version in better state but hard to search offline.


        • Here. Figure 14.

          Click to access precipitacion_venezuela_relacion_sistema%20climatico.pdf

          Figure 23 and 24 indicate that the rainy season is reliable and the dry season is not.

          Here you can find the more common flow duration curves, fig 4:

          Click to access 01_EvaluacionEnergetica.pdf

          Interesting to see is the variability in the gury reservoir level. The system takes water during a season and lets water go during other season. Fig 8. In Fig 7 you can see that the elevation and energy output are also correlated. This is obvious as power is P = Q*n*p*h where Q is flow, n is efficiency, p is water density and h is the elevation difference between downstream and upstream. Based on the fact that the dam has a 162 m elevation I will make an assumption here and say that the delta is roughly there. The downstream levels remain the same.

          Assuming efficiency stays the same (it doesn’t but what the hell) with any meter that drops you have not only less water, but also less energy for every cubit meter of water that flows thru it. About 0.6% less. If you go a historical average of 262 m when you are at 254 you are generating 4.8% less energy with the same amount of water. This means that to keep up with the demand you have to pass more water thru. On top of that the reservoir is not cylindrical. It is more like a martini glass, the lower you are the faster it depletes.

          BTW, this is crappy for our energy supply, but the state of drinking water reservoirs is precarious at best.

          Many basic needs are in peril.


  6. There is intermittent power/water continually here so what’s new??????? Just load up more buckets of water this year. Viva la revolucion!!!!!!!!


  7. I can say this from here: Rain season has been quite light this year. Programmed blackouts have increased in recent weeks and water scarcity is also a major issue.


  8. Sorry to criticize, but this discussion is a little short on facts. Specifically:

    1. How many of the ten turbines are currently functioning?

    2. At what capacity are those that do work functioning?

    3. What is the water volume demand for those turbines at current maximum capacity?

    I seem to recall that at one time, hearing that only three of the turbines were actually functional. My point is that the volume of water in the reservoir may be moot. Comparisons to the past when all ten turbines were functional may not mean much. It is a lot easier for the government to blame the weather than to their lack of investment in infrastructure and maintenance.


    • I would also note that fuel burned in the thermal plants doesn’t generate revenue for the government. Every kW they can avoid generating increases the amount of oil they can export. I suspect that they supply the country with exactly the amount of power to avoid open rebellion and no more. Any excuse serves to squeeze the public harder.


    • Regarding your questions, Roy: four years ago during the last Guri crisis, there was ample data from the OPSIS website to answer such questions. IIRC, the website also had long term water level data for Guri. The OPSIS website is no more. Chavismo prefers that citizens be kept “in the dark” regarding such things.


      • Understood, although something like that can’t be kept secret. There are lots of workers and engineers living near the dam who know this information. In any case, I really wonder if remaining turbines can use up the capacity of the reservoir, even though it may be low. If all the turbines were functioning, it would be an issue. But it may be that the power coming from Guri is now a relatively small percentage of the total consumed.


  9. I’m surprised that this cara ‘e tabla is still posting articles here. I’ll refrain from calling him Juancito, since it occurred to me that at least in English mythology Little John actually had some connection with the poor and disadvantaged.

    There’s an obvious oversight here by our silver foot-in-mouth correspondent: the obligatory “housemaid” sneer is missing.

    It’s just fire and forget here, neither the authors nor the readers pay attention to anything the other says. In a way, it’s representative of the Chacao-Vitacura axis, too lazy to set up a proper discussion forum, too lazy to do do any structured work for themselves.


    • As usual, the moronic chaburrito defending the destruction of the electric power infrastructure, propelled by his artificially implanted mind-rotting hatred.
      Enjoy your stupidity next time your fridge or computer gets fried by another brownout or blackout.


  10. In my mind the real issue is one of talent. Anyone worth their salt in environmental/energy/community planning would have solved this problem years ago. The problem is that almost everyone I know worth their salt has left the country. Plus, who could they possibly get to go to the crime-ridden hellhole of Caracas to work? Who would want to come back?


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