Chivor Hydroelectric Project

Name of Project:
Chivor Hydroelectric Project


I.S.A. – Interconexión Eléctrica S.A. Bogotà

Construction period:

The Chivor hydroelectric plant is located 160 kilometres northeast of the capital Bogotà, in a deep gorge where passes the Batà River, renowned for the extraction of emeralds.

For this reason the dam was named “emeralds’ dam“ by the Colombians.

The project comprises:

  • a rock-fill dam 237 m high measured from foundation’s level, with an impervious clay core. The dam has a total embankment volume of over 11 million cubic metres, with a crest length of 300 m and a maximum width of 820 m at the base
  • a concrete spillway with a discharge capacity of 10,600 m3/sec. About 2,300,000 m3 of rocks were excavated and 52,500 m3 of concrete placed for the spillway works
  • a power tunnel 5,910 m long
  • a penstock, 2,244 m long, consisting of a steel-lined tunnel
  • an open-air powerhouse on the right bank of Lengupà River, which lies about 8 km from the dam. In the first phase, four vertical axis generators of 125 MW each were installed. In the second phase, the powerhouse’s capacity was doubled with the installation of another four sets, for a total installed capacity of 1,000 MW and an average yearly production of 3.4 billion Kwh.

As noted by its general lay-out, the Chivor dam is characterized by the extremely steep and narrow gorge in which it is located. The dam forms a reservoir basin 22 km long with a total storage capacity of about 800 million m3 of water.

The first phase took place from 1970 to 1975, while the second one began in May 1976. At the time of its completion in 1982, Chivor was the third largest dam of its type in the world and among the first in general.

Dam height: 237 m
Open-cut excavation: 4,400,000 m3 (first phase); 60,000 m3 (second phase)
Underground excavation: 543,000 m3 (first phase); 270,000 m3 (second phase)
Dam embankment: 11,100,000 m3 (first phase);
Concrete:143,500 m3 (first phase);