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Hydraulic Energy
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Itaipu produces electricity based on hydraulic energy, in other words, using potential gravitational energy from the water, contained in an elevated reservoir. This energy is present in nature and it can be used in sharp descents or waterfalls.

Before it turns into electric energy, this energy must be converted to kinetic energy. The device that does that conversion is a turbine. The turbine is composed basically in a wheel with paddles, which rotates when it is hit by the water mass. The last element of this chain of conversions is the generator,that converts the circular movement from the turbine into electrical energy.

The building of a hydroelectric plant in a river anticipates the building of a dam to contain it, forming an artificial lake that has two functions: accumulate water for when the flow rate lowers, and to provide a gap for the water to fall (raising potential energy).

At Itaipu, the dam serves to produce the necessary gap to activate the turbines, as its reservoir has a low volume compared to the flow rate of the river (the plant is of the Run-of-the-river type).

The dam, however, does not stop completely the flow of water. Some of that water goes through the water intake, which is the structure capturing water that will be taken through penstocks to the turbines. The remaining water goes back to the river through the spillway, a system of floodgates used to drain the water which is not used to produce energy.

At the powerhouse are installed the equipment to produce electricity, including the water intake, the penstock, generator, Control Room (CCR), Charge Dispatch Control Room and local Control rooms.

The rotation of the turbine, generated by the water flow, rotates the generator rotor, and its magnetic field, as it moves, produce electric energy.
 
In absolute terms, the five largest hydroelectric energy producers in the world are: China, Brazil, Canada, United States and Russia. In 2012, these countries were responsible for almost 56.8% of the world production of hydroelectric energy production (IEA – International Energy Agency). Almost 50% of the current hydroelectric energy installed in Brazil is at the Paraná river basin.

The contribution of hydraulic energy at the national energy matrix, according to the National Energy Balance of 2014 is of around 71%. Even though other energy sources are raising, due to social-economic and environmental restriction of hydroelectric projects and technological advancements on using non-conventional sources, everything indicates that hydraulic energy will be, for many years, the main source of electric energy in Brazil. Although the largest remaining potentials are located at regions with heavy environmental restrictions and far from major consuming centers, it is estimated that, for the next years, at least 59% of the necessity of generating capacity extension will be hydraulic.

 

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