Amazon mega-hydro enters crucial development phase

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Brazil's 11.2GW Belo Monte hydroelectric plant is on track to begin operating from its first turbine in early 2015 despite a series of construction delays, according to the plant's operator Norte Energia.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 3rd BNamericas Latam Power Hydro & Renewables Summit, Norte Energia's planning superintendent João Cadamuro said the plant was entering a "crucial" development phase.

"We are working towards energizing the first turbine at the Pimentel site in February 2015," Cadamuro said in an exclusive interview with BNamericas.

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"The rerouting of the [Xingu] river has to happen by November next year due to the onset of the wet season. That's why we are at a critical phase of the work schedule because if that deadline is not made, the first turbine might have to be postponed from February to June 2015."

The project in northern state Pará has endured a series of delays, protests and worker strikes since construction work began more two years ago.

Greenpeace International says the project's spillway will submerge 400,000ha of rainforest, contaminate water supply and displace 20,000 people.

Norte Energia denies the claims and says it has invested heavily in infrastructure projects for local residents.

The operating consortium comprises state-run energy group Eletrobras (NYSE: EBR), Cemig (NYSE: CIG), Light and Neoenergia.