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The grandiose numbers of Itaipu give rise to impressive comparisons.

•  The total volume of the concrete used in the construction of the power plant would be sufficient to build 210 football stadiums like that of Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.

•  The iron and steel used would permit the construction of 380 Eiffel Towers.

•  The maximum discharge of the Itaipu spillway (62.2 thousand cubic meters per second) corresponds to 40 times the average flow of the Iguaçu Falls.

•  The discharge from two Itaipu turbines (700 cubic meters per second each) corresponds to average flow of the Falls (1500 cubic meters per second). 

•  The height of the main dam (196 meters) is equivalent to the height of a 65 story building. 

•  Brazil would have to burn 536 thousand barrels of oil per day to obtain from thermoelectric plants the same production as the energy from Itaipu

•  The volume of the excavations in earth and rock at Itaipu is 8.5 times greater than that of the Euro tunnel (linking France and England beneath the English Channel) and the volume of concrete is 15 times greater.


See below a comparison chart for the accumulated production of the main hydropower plants in the world:

Power plant Country Started operating in Accumulated production (billion MWh)
Itaipu Brazil-Paraguay 1984 2.3
Guri Venezuela 1978 1.4
Grand Coulee United States 1941 1.2
Sayano-Shushenskaya Russia 1978 1.0
Churchill Falls Canada 1971 1.0
Three Gorges China 2006 0.9
Tucuruí Brasil 1984 0.8
Volzhskaya Russia 1980 0.8
Ust-Ilimsk Russia 1980 0.8
Robert-Bourassa Canada 1979 0.8
Krasnoyarsk Russia 1971 0.7
Tarbela Pakistan 1976 0.4

Production versus flooded area
The best GWh generated per reservoir area ratios.

Power plant Country Generation/Reservoir area
Grand Coulee USA 83
Three Gorges China 78
Itaipu Brazil-Paraguay 70
Sayano Russia 41
Tucurui Brazil 14
Guri Venezuela 13

Installed capacity 

A comparison among the world’s main power plants’ generator sets. 

Three Gorges (China) 22,400 mW 160%
Itaipu 14,000 mW 100%
Guri (Venezuela) 10,000 mW 74%
Tucuruí (Brasil) 8,379 mW 60%
Grand Coulee (USA) 6,809 mW 49%
Sayano Shushenskaya (Russia) 6,400 mW 46%
Krasnoyarsk (Russia) 6,000 mW 43%
Robert-Bourassa(Canada) 5,616 mW 40%

Itaipu and Three Gorges

Power Plant Itaipu Three Gorges
Turbines 20 32 (6 underground)
Rated power 700 mW 700 mW
Installed power 14,000 mW 22,400 mW (when completed, in 2011)
Record annual production 98.6 billion kWh/year (2013) 98.8 billion kWh/year
Accumulated production 2,3 billion MWh 0,9 billion MWh
Concrete used 12.57 million m³ 27.94 million m³
Height 196 meters 181 meters
Length of dam

7,744 meters (concrete, rock and earth)

175 meters (Hernandárias dyke)

4,149 meters (concrete 2,309 m and Maoping dyke1,840 m)
Spillway – discharge capacity 62,200 m³/s 120,600 m³/s
Excavations 63.85 million m³ 134 million m³

 *Source: Three Gorges Corporation.


Length 170 km 600 km
Area 1,350 km² 1,084 km²
Storage 29 billion m³ 39.3 billion m³
Normal operation level 220 m 175 m
Number of people resettled 40 thousand 1.13 million
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