The China-built hydropower station in Argentina benefits locals
The Santa Cruz hydroelectric power station in Argentina, which is being built by companies from China, is the world's southernmost hydropower project.
During a visit to Argentina by China's President Xi Jinping in July 2014, the two countries signed an agreement that saw China's Ge Zhou Ba Group take the lead in the construction.
Located on the Santa Cruz River in the south-central part of Santa Cruz Province, the project consists of the Kondocliff and Labalangkosa hydropower stations, which are 65 kilometers apart along the same river.
A picture shows the construction of the Santa Cruz hydroelectric power station in Argentina. [Photo:China Plus]
After five years of preparatory building work, full-scale construction began in February. The project team is aiming to start electricity generation in April 2022.
Yuan Zhixiong is the deputy general manager for the project. He said that the hydropower station will be a good supplement to the existing electricity supply in Argentina.
"The total installed capacity of our two power stations is 1,310 megawatts. If our project can generate electricity in 2022, we will connect to the Argentine National Grid through a 173-kilometer, 500-kilo-volt ultra-high-voltage transmission line covering the local hydropower stations."
The massive construction project has provided a significant boost to employment in Argentina. The main construction materials, such as steel and cement, along with some of the construction equipment, such as the concrete mixers, are being purchased locally. This is expected to generate more than 20,000 indirect job opportunities in the country.
And as Yuan Zhixiong explains, the overwhelming majority of the project workforce comes from the local community.
"We have 1,600 employees so far, and at least 80 percent of them are local people. The population of Santa Cruz is less than 300,000. In the busy periods, we will have 5,000 workers, which helps solve the local employment issue."
The project will also make a significant contribution to local taxation, which will in turn provide the local government with a boost in revenue that can be used to improve its infrastructure. Once the project is completed, the dam's upstream environment has the potential to become a local tourist attraction, like the Argentine Lake.
The Santa Cruz hydropower project is the biggest hydropower station project under the Belt and Road Initiative. Yuan Zhixong said it will provide a boost in China's exports of the heavy equipment needed for the project.
"Our project has driven equipment from China to go abroad, such as generator sets, hydropower units, and supporting industries, as well as our technology and standards. The project plays an important role in promoting the entire industrial chain."