Gecelca 3 power station

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The Gecelca power station is a 437-megawatt (MW) power station near Puerto Libertador, Córdoba, Colombia. The plant's first unit (164-megawatt Gecelca 3) was brought online in September 2015, while the second unit (273-MW Gecelca 3.2) was brought online in September 2018.


The undated satellite photo below shows the plant, in Puerto Libertador municipality, Córdoba department.

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The plant's two units - 164-megawatt Gecelca 3 and 273-megawatt Gecelca 3.2 - are a project of the Colombian public utility company Gecelca S.A. The plant received its environmental license in April 2010, and the Chinese consortium CUC-DTC was awarded a contract to construct the first unit.[1]

The originally projected operation dates for the two units were 2013 and 2015, respectively.[2] However, construction was plagued by repeated delays. CUC-DTC asked for a one-year extension on December 9, 2012, moving Gecelca 3's anticipated completion date to December 2013. Gecelca fined CUC-DTC US$75,000 for the delay, casting doubt over CUC-DTC's future role in the construction of Gecelca 3.2.[3] Despite these delays, CUC-DTC was also chosen in late 2013 as the winning bidder for the US$430 million Gecelca 3.2 project.[4]

The US$690 million Gecelca 3 power station was finally brought online in September 2015, becoming the first commercially operating plant in Colombia to use circulating fluidized bed technology.[5]

As of March 2016, construction of Gecelca 3.2 was 57% complete.[4] The project was scheduled for completion in the first half of 2017.[6]

In November 2016, indigenous demonstrators blocked entrance to the plant, and construction was temporarily suspended.[7][8]

In November 2016, the Colombian national planning agency CONPES recommended that Gecelca be granted a government-funded loan of 250 billion pesos for completion of the Gecelca 3.2 power station. The CONPES report noted that challenging economic conditions for Colombian energy projects in late 2015/2016 had negatively impacted Gecelca's cash flow, and that the company could no longer obtain the necessary funding from commmercial sources. The report further stated that construction of Gecelca 3.2 was 82% complete, with its projected start-up date now delayed until the second half of 2017. [9] In April 2017, Colombia's Ministerio de Hacienda y Crédito Público issued Resolución 0951 approving the loan of 250 billion pesos, with funding to be provided by Banco Davivienda S.A.[10]

As of November 2017, the Gecelca 3.2 plant had still not begun commercial operations, but a draft 2017-2031 national energy plan issued by the Colombian government agency UPME indicated that Gecelca 3.2 would come online sometime in the first half of 2018.[11]

Gecelca 3.2 began test operations on April 20, 2018,[12] and entered commercial operation on September 28, 2018.[13]

Gecelca S.A. plans to fuel the plant via its Las Palmeras mine project, using coal extracted from an open-pit mine northeast of Puerto Libertador [14] in partnership with mining company Cerro Matoso S.A.[15]

Environmental and Human Rights Impacts

In April 2020, La Liga del Silencio reported that Colombia's indigenous Zenú people are taking legal action against Cerro Matoso S.A. for the company's failure to respect the Zenús' right to prior consent as guaranteed by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The report noted that increased mining in the Puerto Libertador region has caused significant degradation of ancestral Zenú lands and led to serious conflict, including incidents of intimidation and assassination of Zenú community leaders.[15]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Gecelca S.A.
  • Parent company:
  • Location: Puerto Libertador, Córdoba, Colombia
  • Coordinates: 7.99111, -75.59456 (exact)
  • Status:
    • Unit 1: Operating
    • Unit 2: Operating
  • Gross Capacity:
    • Unit 1: 164 MW
    • Unit 2: 273 MW[16]
  • Type: Circulating fluidized bed
  • Projected in service: 2015 (Unit 1); 2018 (Unit 2)
  • Coal Type: Sub-bituminous
  • Coal Source: Las Palmeras mine
  • Source of financing:

Articles and resources


  1. "Gecelca 3: RESEÑA HISTORICA,", Gecelca website, accessed April 2014.
  2. "Gecelca construye térmicas por unos us$656 millones,", Jan. 14, 2012.
  3. "El cuento chino de los mil días,", La República, September 8, 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "El ‘cuento chino’ de la energía de Gecelca,", Semana, July 11, 2015.
  5. "Entró en funcionamiento termoeléctrica Gecelca 3 en Puerto Libertador,", La Razón, September 16, 2015.
  6. "Gecelca 3.2," El Meridiano, Mar 23, 2016
  7. Indígenas bloquean nuevamente vía a termoeléctrica Gecelca 3, La Razón, 5 Nov. 2016.
  8. Gecelca 3 thermoelectric plant suspended work in Puerto Libertador, El Telégrafo, 8 Nov. 2016.
  9. "Documento 3873 (p3 & p11)," CONPES, Nov 12, 2016
  10. "Diario Oficial," Ministerio de Hacienda y Crédito Público, Apr 10, 2017
  11. "Plan de Expansión de Referencia Generación Transmisión 2017-2031," UPME, Nov 30, 2017
  12. BOLETÍN ENERGÉTICO # 150, XM, Apr. 20, 2018
  13. BOLETÍN ENERGÉTICO # 165, XM, Nov. 1, 2018
  14. "Proyecto Minero Las Palmeras". Gecelca S.A. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "'La resistencia del indio' es caminar por el territorio minero | Tierra de Resistentes". Liga Contra el Silencio. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  16. "Generación". Gecelca website. Retrieved June 9, 2020.

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External resources