Brazil: Hydropower project
Clean energy generation on the Plotas River
States of Santa Catarina /Rio Grande do Sul, BRAZIL*
Situated along the Plotas River between Anita Garibaldi and Pinhal da Serra, the project involves the diversion of river water towards a small dam. Three generators, each with a capacity of 236MW, are installed at the site. The project has a high generation capacity of 708MW. However, a comparatively small project reservoir is used for power generation.
Every year, the project will deliver 3,313 GWh of clean electricity to the national power grid. Based on average per capita power consumption in Brazil, this project alone is sufficient to sustainably meet the electricity demands of over 1.2 million Brazilians.
Technology brief – how it works
Hydropower is one of the oldest means of using energy. The principle is simple: All it needs is water and a difference in vertical height. The kinetic energy of the water flow drives a turbine coupled to a generator and thus is transformed into electricity.
This project is of the run-of-river type. The plant uses the natural flow of the river and diverts only part
of the stream to drive the turbines. The project uses a dam meaning that the power supply doesn‘t rely on weather or rainy seasons. This makes the power consistent and reliable year-round and thus reduces the need for back-up generators which are often powered by fossil fuels. Furthermore, it means that the power supply can be controlled so that in times when demand is lower, water can be held back rather than creating a surplus of energy.
Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America and is among the five largest developing countries in the world (BRICS). The country‘s population totals around 210 million people and is continuously growing. By 2035, Brazil‘s population will reach around 229 million people. The growth in economy and population has come hand in hand with a growth in energy demand and thus greenhouse gas emissions. The country is the 6th largest emitter of carbon emissions in the world. The majority of its carbon emissions come from unsustainable land-use, especially logging and forest clearing.
The amount of emissions Brazil emits will continue to rise as its population grows. In order to tackle this and meet energy demands in a sustainable way, it is important that the country harnesses its renewable resources. Hydropower, for example, is among the resources with the biggest potential for Brazil and much of this resource remains untapped.