Itaipu welcomes heavy rains as Brazil’s drought continues

Itaipu Hydropower Project

Heavy rains along its western border are giving Brazil’s Itaipu plant a boost in its power production just when the South American country needs it most.

The 14 GW hydroelectric project, located on the Brazil/Paraguay border, is currently passing 11,000 cubic meters of water per second, exceeding the 10,700 m3 p/second usually forecast for October. The flow has caused operator Itaipu Binacional to project a production of 8.2 million MWh for the month — a mark that would be Itaipu’s fifth-best October since the facility went on line in 1984.

Itaipu’s higher-than-average output comes at a fortuitous time as a prolonged drought is straining production at many of Brazil’s other hydropower projects, which account for about two-thirds of the country’s cumulative installed capacity.

Earlier this month, federal regulator Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica announced low reservoir levels would lead to higher power rates for consumers, while the government said in September that it was planning to increase electric imports from Uruguay and Argentina.

“The increase in production will help guarantee the energy supply at a crucial time,” Itaipu Binacional said in a statement last week. “If generation remains at the current high level, Itaipu will reach the annual 75 TWh of annual production outlined in its contract by [October] 20th.”

Itaipu set a world record for annual power generation in 2016, besting China’s Three Gorges with production of 103.09 TWh. The plant will soon undergo a 10-year, US$500 million upgrade.

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