Brazil Vows to End Amazonian Mega-Dam Construction; Moves Toward Wind and Solar Energy

After years of criticism, the government of Brazil announced in January that it will end the era of building big hydropower dams in the Amazon. In an article in the O Globo newspaper, Paulo Pedrosa, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said that the government has no prejudice against big hydro but that the costs and risks now outweigh the benefits.

In a press release about the news, the InterAmerican Clean Energy Institute said that for years, mega-dams in the Amazon have drawn opposition from Indigenous peoples, energy and economic experts, social and environmental organizations, and citizens in Brazil and globally.

In particular, campaigns against the Belo Monte and São Luiz do Tapajós mega-dams mobilized a broad coalition of Indigenous communities and civil society organizations, who urged the Brazilian government to develop the country’s wind and solar resources and invest in energy efficiency instead of funding mega-dams in the Amazon.

Paulo Pedrosa, Brazil’s Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, acknowledged the impact of this societal resistance, as well as the high costs and risks of mega-dams, in statements to O Globo. 

The InterAmerican Clean Energy Institute said that Brazil’s world-class wind and solar resources, the falling costs of wind and solar technologies, and advances in integrating renewable energy make a compelling economic case for a transition away from new mega-dams toward other sources of energy.

For example, solar projects dominated the December power auction in Brazil. In addition, the country dominates the wind market in Latin America.

With this week’s announcement, the national energy matrix is expected to continue to change by integrating more wind and solar power, small hydroelectric, biomass, and decentralized generation.

Heather Rosmarin, Executive Director of the InterAmerican Clean Energy Institute, congratulated the government of Brazil.

“We are profoundly grateful to the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon and the citizens of Brazil for years of dedicated work to protect the Amazon and advance clean, renewable, and affordable energy solutions,” she said in a statement.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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