Guri Dam

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Guri Dam
Guri Dam in Venezuela.JPG
Guri Dam is located in Venezuela
Guri Dam
Location of Guri Dam in Venezuela
Official name Central Hidroeléctrica Simón Bolívar
Location Necuima Canyon, Bolívar
Coordinates 07°45′52″N 63°00′00″W / 7.76444°N 63.00000°W / 7.76444; -63.00000Coordinates: 07°45′52″N 63°00′00″W / 7.76444°N 63.00000°W / 7.76444; -63.00000
Status In use
Construction began 1963
Opening date 1978
Owner(s) CVG Electrificación del Caroní, C.A.
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Gravity/embankment
Impounds Caroni River
Height 162 m (531 ft)
Length 7,426 m (24,364 ft)
Dam volume Concrete: 6,026,000 m3 (212,806,182 cu ft)
Earth: 23,801,000 m3 (840,524,383 cu ft)
Spillway type Service, controlled crest overflow
Spillway capacity 27,000 m3/s (953,496 cu ft/s)
Creates Guri Reservoir
Total capacity 135,000,000,000 m3 (109,446,281 acre·ft)
Surface area 4,250 km2 (1,641 sq mi)
Power station
Turbines 10 × 730 MW
4 × 180 MW
3 × 400 MW
3 × 225 MW
1 × 340 MW [1][2]
Installed capacity 10,235 MW
Annual generation 47,000 GWh

The Guri Dam is a concrete gravity and embankment dam in Bolívar State, Venezuela on the Caroni River.[3] Its official name is Central Hidroeléctrica Simón Bolívar (previously named Central Hidroeléctrica Raúl Leoni from 1978 to 2000). It is 7,426 metres long and 162 m high.[4] It impounds the large Guri Reservoir (Embalse de Guri),[5] with a surface area of 4,250 square kilometres (1,641 sq mi) it is the largest fresh water body of water in Venezuela and the eleventh largest man-made lake in the world.

History and design[edit]

The dam and reservoir as seen from space.

In 1963, construction began for the hydroelectric power station Guri in the Necuima Canyon, about 100 kilometers upstream from the mouth of the Caroní River in the Orinoco. By 1969 a 106 m high and 690 m long dam had been built. It created a reservoir with its water level at 215 metres above sea level. The power station had a combined installed capacity of 1750 megawatts (MW).[3] By 1978, the capacity had been upgraded to 2065 MW, generated by ten turbines.[citation needed]

Because the demand for electricity grew fast, another construction phase started in 1976, building of a 1300 m long gravity dam, another spillway channel and a second powerhouse and 10 turbines of 730 MW each were installed. The powerhouse´s inside walls were decorated by the Venezuelan kinetic artist Carlos Cruz-Díez.[citation needed] This increased the dam's dimensions to 162 m in height and to 7426 m (according to other sources 11,409 m[3]) in length. The reservoir grew bigger and reached its water level at 272 m.[6]:12 The structure was inaugurated on 08-Nov-1986.[citation needed]

Since 2000, there is an ongoing refurbishment project to extend the operation of Guri Power Plant by 30 years. This project is to create 5 new runners and main components on Powerhouse II, and close to the end of 2007 is starting the rehabilitation of four units on Powerhouse I.[citation needed]


Guri Reservoir is one of the largest on earth.[citation needed] The hydroelectric power station ranks among the List of largest hydroelectric power stations. It was once the largest worldwide in terms of installed capacity, when it replaced Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP, but was surpassed by Itaipu HPP.[citation needed]

Contribution to Venezuelan energy[edit]

Due to government policy in effect from the 1960s to minimize power production from fossil fuels in order to export as much oil as possible, 74% of Venezuela's electricity comes from renewable energy like hydroelectric power.[6]:33 As of 2006 the Guri Dam alone supplied more than a third of Venezuela's electricity[6]:33 Parts of the power generated at Guri is exported to Colombia and Brazil.[citation needed] The risks of this strategy became apparent in 2010, when, due to a prolonged drought, water levels were too low to produce enough electricity to meet demand.[citation needed] In January 2010, the Venezuelan government imposed rolling blackouts of two hours every day throughout the country to combat low water levels behind the dam due to drought.[citation needed]

Environmental controversy[edit]

The dam has long been the focus of much controversy, because the lake it created forever destroyed thousands of square miles of a forest that was renowned for its biodiversity and rare wildlife, including the only place where the recently discovered Carrizal seedeater (a finch-like tanager) was ever found.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Guri Hydropower Station". VHPC. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Hydroelectric Plants in Venezuela". IndustCards. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Guri Dam". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  4. ^ "Dams - Guri". Covenpre VENCOLD. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Farrell, John (23 February 1969). "A Dam And Falls In Venezuela Jungle". The Blade (Toledo, Ohio). 
  6. ^ a b c CVG Electrificación Del Caroní, C.A.: Cifras 2006, ISSN 1315-2386. Caracas, Agosto 2007

External links[edit]