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Andreas Milbradt |

Bolivia and Siemens: An Energetic Partnership

If you ask traveller’s bible Lonely Planet, Bolivia is a land of rocks, rivers, and ravines: “rough around the edges, superlative in its natural beauty, rugged, vexing, complex and slightly nerve-racking”.  The landlocked nation of 11 million inhabitants pushes colourfully up against terrain as diverse as the Amazon Basin rainforest, the Andes Mountains and the Atacama Desert.


Bolivia is as rich in natural resources as it is in striking scenery however, and has bold ambitions to transform its economy – as well as bring reliable electricity supply to the 1,200,000 Bolivians who still go without. To help realise this vision, it has trusted partner Siemens with delivering the energy infrastructure that can trigger a “virtuous circle” of economic and human development.


A trusted partner


Siemens has been active in Bolivia for decades and realized the first large project in 2008, when it completed the La Arboleda 230/115-kV substation for ISA Bolivia and integrated it into the country’s power grid via a 230-kV line, replacing an older installation: the substation is now the cornerstone of Bolivia’s power grid. 


Two years later in fiscal 2010 – building on a growing relationship across sectors between Bolivia and Siemens – local power utility Ende Andina SAM awarded Siemens a contract to supply four gas turbine generators with a total capacity of 116 MW.


With energy demand and Bolivia’s ambitions both growing, last year the country contracted Siemens and Spanish consortium partner TSK to execute the biggest power expansion project in Bolivia’s history in a contract that will see the partners add 1GW to the grid; increasing the capacity of Bolivia’s National Interconnected System by 66% via the delivery of 14 SGT-800 gas turbines, 11 SST-400 steam turbines with condensers, 22 steam generators, 25 generators and a SPPA-T3000 control system.


This contract is at the heart of an action plan that will see power generation almost double to 14.2 TWh in 2026, from 8.7 TWh in 2014.  The project is quite a journey for Bolivia. And for the equipment that will help sustain this transformation, “journey” is more than a metaphor: Siemens’ 14 gas turbines, 11 steam turbines and 22 steam generators must undergo a real trip before being commissioned in this land-locked nation.


Equipment will arrive over land and sea from Sweden, China, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Vietnam, and neighboring Brazil, in a global effort that will cover tens of thousands of miles and some profoundly challenging terrain: over 400 heavy loads will ultimately cross the Andean Mountains into Bolivia, through passes at altitudes of over 4680 meters, via 180 bridges, the smaller of which require engineering work to support even the modular components being shipped.


Transformative power


The project is part of Bolivia’s “2025 Patriotic Agenda” (2025 is Bolivia’s 200th anniversary since the establishment of the Republic of Bolivia) – which includes the goals of eradicating extreme poverty; 100% water and sanitation coverage; 100% electricity, phone service, and Internet coverage; 100% access to health services; 100% coverage of primary and secondary education and more.  The country has already made great progress: between 2002 and 2014 extreme poverty more than halved – from 39.5% to 17%  – while income inequality also trended sharply downward.


The ultimate goal, however, is not to stop at Bolivia’s borders, but become South America’s energy hub; adding electricity to the gas exports it already makes to neighbouring Brazil and Argentina that have helped it become the fastest growing South American economy every year since 2014. Siemens looks forward to supporting this growth story.


Watch this space for more information on our Bolivian partnership!


Find out more about how Siemens contributes to add more than 1GW to the Bolivian grid.


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