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Itaipu seals partnership with Three Gorges Corporation
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08/09/2017

Itaipu and Chinese Three Gorges Corporation will have a strategic partnership in the areas of innovation and technology. On Saturday, the 2nd, the Brazilian general director of Itaipu, Luiz Fernando Leone Vianna, and the vice president of the Chinese holding, Lin Chuxue, signed a technical cooperation agreement in Beijing. Vianna is part of the Ministry of Mines and Energy delegation at the 9th BRICS summit, the block formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Three Gorges Corporation controls several Chinese power plants. The most important is Three Gorges, the largest in the world in terms of installed capacity. Part of the know-how used in the project was acquired by the Chinese during visits to the Itaipu hydroelectric plant since the beginning of its construction, in 1975.
 
The agreement signed on Saturday expands the relationship between the Chinese holding and Itaipu. Among the documents is a protocol of intent to develop joint research actions in the areas of renewable energy. Itaipu has developed several projects in this field, specially in the usage of biogas as a source of energy in rural areas.
 
The Agreement
 
The agreement between Itaipu and China’s Three Gorges Corporation provides for technical seminars for the exchange of knowledge on operational themes, sectoral seminars, internships for young engineers, research projects to strengthen technological parks and cooperation in social responsibility and regional development projects.
 
On Saturday the 2nd, the Brazilian general director participated in the seminar on Investment Opportunities in the Infrastructure, Transport, Energy and Agribusiness Sectors promoted by the Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investments (Apex-Brazil). The meeting gathered Chinese business leaders who invest or are interested in investing in Brazil.
 
The partnership was renewed amid a series of bilateral agreements between Brazil and China. “The Brazil-China mission takes place at a moment when the Brazilian economy is starting to recover, after three years of recession. What we are beginning to see now is only the beginning of the recovery that will take place by the end of the year ", said Vianna.
 
Itaipu is also entering a new phase. Over the next few decades, in order to continue performing an important role in the economic and social development of the two countries that are partners in the venture, Brazil and Paraguay, the plant is starting the technological update project for its 20 machines, 18 of which are still from the 1980s and 1990s. It is expected that everything will be ready in ten years, with an estimated investment of US$ 500 million. This update will allow the plant to maintain the levels or production that led it to the power generation world record in 2016.
 
The studies, planning and proceedures of the update will take about ten years to be completed. “It is a new design for the plant, in which a network will integrate digital equipment that carries out functions performed by the current devices, and several new functions aimed at further improving the energy production management processes", said the Brazilian general director who is an electrical engineer and is also Itaipu’s Technical Director.
 
However, the heavy electromechanical equipment, such as the turbine, rotor, stator and main transformer are not part of the technological upgrading process, because they are far from the end of their typical lifespan for this class of components. According to Vianna, "The complexity of the project does not allow for improvisation. Therefore, each stage is being thoroughly assessed before advancing to the next. We are also finalizing the studies to define the number of machines that will be shut down for this technological upgrade ".
 
And he adds, "We have several scenarios with different impacts to the upgrade logistics and the availability of power. If we upgrade two machines a year, the period to carry out the works with the units shut down, is approximately ten years, plus another three for the activities that precede the shut downs, such as executive project, manufacturing and testing”. The expectation is that the public notice will be published by mid-2018. Itaipu is responsible for 16% of Brazil’s consumption and over 70% of the Paraguayan electric power demand.