El Chocón Dam

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El Chocón Dam
ISS012-E-13151 Limay River, El Chocón.jpg
The El Chocón Reservoir, as seen from the ISS. The dam is located on the bottom part of the picture.
Official name Embalse Ezequiel Ramos Mexía
Location Villa El Chocon, Argentina
Coordinates 39°15′57″S 68°45′23″W / 39.26583°S 68.75639°W / -39.26583; -68.75639Coordinates: 39°15′57″S 68°45′23″W / 39.26583°S 68.75639°W / -39.26583; -68.75639
Opening date 1973
Owner(s) Hidronor
Dam and spillways
Impounds Limay River
Height 94 m (308 ft)
Length 2,500 m (8,200 ft)
Reservoir
Creates El Chocón Reservoir
Total capacity 20.155 km3 (16,340,000 acre·ft)
Surface area 816 km2 (315 sq mi)
Power station
Turbines 6 × 204.5 MW
Installed capacity 1,200 MW
Annual generation 2,700 GWh

The El Chocón Dam (Spanish: La Presa de El Chocón) is the fourth of the five dams on the Limay River in the northwestern Argentine Patagonia (the Comahue region), at 381 metres (1,250 ft) above mean sea level. El Chocón is on the Limay River at about 80 km (50 mi) upstream of its confluence with the Neuquén River.

El Chocón is used to regulate the flow of the Limay River, for irrigation, and for the generation of hydroelectricity. Its power station is the largest hydroelectric power plant in Patagonia, with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts (1,600,000 hp). It was built by the state-owned company Hidronor (Hidroeléctrica Norpatagónica). It started operating in 1973, and achieved full capacity in 1978. In the period 1974–1995 it produced an annual average of 2,700 gigawatt-hours (9,700 TJ). In 1993 it was privatized, with an exploitation concession granted to Hidroeléctrica El Chocón S. A.

While the formal name of the project is Embalse Ezequiel Ramos Mexía, in common use it ended up acquiring the name of the settlement that served as the construction's base of operations, Villa El Chocón (a small town, population 957, as of 2001).

El Chocón is part of a larger engineering scheme that also includes the Cerros Colorados Complex, on the Neuquén River. The Hydroelectric Complex which holds El Chocón and Arroyito Hydroelectric Power Plants, is located in the region known as Comahue, which is formed by the Argentine provinces of Río Negro and Neuquén and the southern area of the Buenos Aires and La Pampa provinces.

Technical details[edit]

The dam is made of earth, with a concrete spillway. About 13,000,000 cubic metres (460,000,000 cu ft) of materials were used. It measures 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) in length. Its maximum height over the river bed is 87 metres (285 ft).

The reservoir has a maximum area of 860 km2 (332 sq mi), a mean depth of 24.7 metres (81 ft) (maximum 60 metres (200 ft)), and a maximum volume of 206,000,000,000 cubic metres (7.3×1012 cu ft). It is used for sailing, sport fishing and other forms of recreation by locals and tourists.

The power plant has six vertical Francis turbines, with a nominal power of 204.5 megawatts (274,200 hp) each, which rotate at 88 rpm. The apparent powers are of 200 MVA for each generator, and 180 MVA for each transformer.

Material: Hidroeléctrica El Chocón S.A.

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