Brazil needs hydro mega-dam projects - government

Friday, November 21, 2014

Brazilian energy minister Edison Lobão has defended the country's hydropower reliance amid deepening concerns over drought and opposition to large-scale dam projects.

In a statement on the mining and energy ministry's website, Lobão pointed to the 14GW Itaipu hydroelectric plant on the Brazil-Paraguay border as proof of hydropower's effectiveness.

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"At a time when Brazil needs to increase its generation park, Itaipu remains at the forefront, showing our capacity to build large hydroelectric plants while respecting the environment and promoting development," Lobão said.

"In the case of Itaipu, the benefits extend to Paraguay and other neighboring countries."

Brazil's installed hydropower capacity currently stands at 75GW, about 60% of its total generation park.

But the country's worst drought in decades has forced the government to activate backup thermal plants as hydropower turbines lie idol.

Brazil has also seen growing opposition from local communities to new mega-dam projects in the country's north.

Among the most controversial is the 11.2GW Belo Monte plant, which has been the target of regular protests and occupations since construction work began in 2011.

In September the government suspended the auction of the 6.1GW São Luiz do Tapajós plant after being accused of failing to properly consult local communities.

People block the Transamazon highway in protest at the Belo Monte hydroelectric project in Brazil's northern state of Pará. CREDIT: ANDERSON BARBOSA/AFP