After many delays and competing projects, Ecuador’s first onshore wind project has reached a milestone with the completion of a feasibility study in May. Ecuadorian firm Elecaustro is proposing the 30 MW Minas de Huascachaca project outside the southern city of Cuenca. According to press reports, wind speeds average 5.9 m/s in the area. The Huascachaca project has been in consideration for some time (Elecaustro completed site selection studies in 2003) and the total price tag is estimated at US$ 34 million.
Although the only other wind generation currently in operation in Ecuador is a small 2.4 MW facility on the Galapagos Islands that was built in 2007, several other projects have been proposed in recent years.
Another 15 MW wind park in the South in the province of Loja, known as Proyecto Eólico Villonaco, has been in consideration for some time but was recently paralyzed by legal and political battles after the tender was granted to a newly created private company with ties to local politicians. Construction was originally scheduled for start-up by end 2008, but work has yet to begin and it will take at least two years to bring the park online.
Yet a third project is being proposed for the Salinas Valley in the northern province of Imbabura by local company Electroviento with the support of the regional electricity utility Empresa Eléctrica Regional Norte. According to the company, the 10 MW project has an estimated cost of US$ 22 million. While Ecuador’s minister came out in support of the project in April, saying that financing was already in place, no concrete plans for the wind park have been publicly released to date.