Iberdrola, through its Brazilian affiliate Neoenergia, has opened the 350-MW Baixo Iguacu hydroelectric power plant, with an investment of more than €500 million (US$559.5 million).
The plant – on the Iguacu River in Parana State — will supply sustainable energy to 1 million Brazilians and its production is equivalent to nearly 8% of the annual electricity demand of the State of Parana.
During the event, Iberdrola Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ignacio S. Galan stressed that “we are proud to contribute to the economic and social development of the country” and announced that Iberdrola’s commitment will continue to increase. “Over the next five years alone, we are going to invest around €6.5 billion in new projects in Brazil to continue improving country’s electricity supply and, thus, its competitiveness,” he said.
Iberdrola says this power plant will have a positive impact on the flow of water over the Iguacu Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, which receives 1.5 million visitors every year. The flow of the waterfalls can be affected during periods of drought and were diminished to mere trickles in 2006. The National Electric System Operator (ONS) says that, thanks to the contribution of this hydroelectric power plant, the famous falls will always have the minimum necessary water flow.
The powerhouse contains three Kaplan turbine-generating units. Alstom was awarded the contract to supply the electromechanical and erection equipment for the project in October 2012.
The developer says Baixo Iguacu “has been built maintaining the highest standards of quality and respect for the environment.” For example, the water channel has not been modified. And Kaplan turbines were used because the necessary flooding area then will be significantly smaller than that of other hydroelectric plants of similar size.
Iberdrola now has a generation capacity of more than 3,700 MW in Brazil, 86% of which is renewable, from onshore wind farms to hydroelectric power plants.
Specific to pumped hydro, the company has an installed capacity of 4,400 MW and several projects under construction. These include the largest pumped storage hydro scheme in Europe, Cortes-La Muela (Valencia) on the Jucar River, with a capacity of almost 1,400 MW. The company is also working on the Tamega project in northern Portugal, a complex that will have more than 1,100 MW of installed power, 890 MW of which will be pumped.