More of that pure energy – Cheves Hydro Power Project

In early January, I traded cold and dark Norway for summery Peru and the Cheves Project, my last rotation as a graduate trainee in Statkraft. I really wanted to go on an ‘exotic’ assignment, so when the opportunity presented itself last year, I didn’t hesitate and started brushing up on my Spanish. Which was quite limited, to be generous.

As can be seen in the pictures, the scenery is quite impressive around the project. Cheves is a 168 MW hydro power project in the Lima Region of Peru, about four hours driving from the capital. My main tasks so far have been revolving around the construction of a 13.8 kV line that supplies power to the three dam sites (two dams upstream and a balancing reservoir downstream of the project). Few of the towers have road access, so donkeys and manpower have been utilised to get the equipment and materials in place! I shot this 360 panorama during one of our line inspections, take a look to get the impression of how work can look like here:

Cheves Hydro Power Project
168 MW, two pelton turbines, 600 m head
Fully operational Q1 2015

Having worked primarily with wind power until now, I find it exciting to be in hydro for a while, it being a core Statkraft activity and all. Moreover, my previous rotations have been within other stages of project lifetime, this is the first time I find myself at a real construction site with very tangible day-to-day challenges. Without a doubt valuable experience for a young trainee. The intensity is somewhat more fierce than in the offices back home. When there’s an issue, logistical hiccup or a design that needs revising yesterday, we must try to find solutions effectively and minimise any impact on schedule.

The two pictures below show the power house taken almost three months apart. The first picture reveals how the plant looks several floors under the machine hall floor, which has been completed in the second picture. The two generator pits are clearly visible. Final assembly of the generators takes place in the machine hall before they are lifted into the pits by the overhead crane.

I’ve had two weeks of time off so far and there was no question of going home just yet, in the end I decided on going on a cruise around the Galapagos islands in Ecuador. I can tell you that it was quite the experience to snorkel with sea turtles, neon coloured fish and sea lions. I especially recall when three penguins chased a school of fish around me, not at all bothered by my presence. On shore, there were iguanas by the hundreds, birds, lizards and tortoises. We also got to see month-old tortoises at a breeding facility. Relaxing on the sun deck accompanied by a thriller pocket wasn’t wrong either.

Working days in Peru are longer than back home. A work week is apparently 48 hours, and the site is no exception. Luckily there’s time for other things as well, like the BBQs that are hosted every now and then. The pool table and the gym are also places i frequently find myself, the latter a necessity given the amounts of food you can get here (three courses for lunch and dinner, plus fruit). I spend every second weekend at site, and try to get out on the Sundays to see something else than the campsite. It is quite barren around here, but as you climb and gain some altitude, the scenery is greener and more hospitable. Higher up, it rains more, and the locals lead the rain water through pools and ducts to irrigate their land. At 3000 m it’s lush and conditions are well suited for growing fruit. Most grow peach or apples for sale in Lima.

Lima is a city I quickly came to like. Three of the pictures below are taken there, trying to capture some of the beautiful skies I’ve observed. Strolling along the waterfront, having a burger and freshly pressed orange juice or a milkshake in one of the many parks in Miraflores are some of the more relaxing things I’ve been up to so far. There are some mountain biking possibilities close to town as well that I’d like to check out. And there are loads of good restaurants. I’ve learned that Peruvians are very passionate about food, it’s often the first thing a Peruvian will talk to you about. Be sure to try ceviche, a delicious seafood dish with raw fish.

I almost can’t believe that three months have passed here in Cheves already. Things will be even more exciting now as the electro mechanical delivery is starting, there’s no risk of running out of work any time soon! If you ever find yourself in a position to go work on a project abroad like this, I’d warmly encourage you to take it. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.

One Comment Add yours

  1. germán says:

    Hello, as a Peruvian I am glad you enjoyed while in Perú. Thanks for your nice comments on this land.

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