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Itaipu breaks historic production record
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In 2008 the Itaipu power plant set up a new historic record in terms of electricity production by generating 94,684,781 megawatts-hour (MWh). The previous record had been set in 2000, when Itaipu generated 93,427,598 MWh.


This volume of power had never been achieved by any other hydro power plant in the world. The Three Gorges plant China is building on the Rio Yang-Tse River should not surpass Itaipu in terms of production. Once it is finished, the Chinese power plant will have 22,400 megawatts (MW) in installed capacity, compared to Itaipu's 14,000 MW. The latter's advantage over Three Gorges is its hydrological situation: the Paraná River, where Itaipu is located, has a great volume of water all year round.


The electricity generated by Itaipu in 2008 would be enough to supply the entire worldwide consumption for two days; serve a country like Argentina for one year; and Paraguay, a partner in this enterprise, for 11 years. It could also supply the electricity demand of 23 cities the size of greater Curitiba for one year.




“At a time of economic uncertainty, Itaipu is giving its contribution to help Brazil remain on the path to development”, said Jorge Samek, Itaipu's Brazilian general director. He attributed the record breaking to the sum of three factors. “We needed to have enough water, machinery available at all times, and consumption demand for this power”, he highlighted. “And these factors were only possible thanks to our increasing savings, the competent work of the people taking care of the plant's maintenance, and the generosity of the Paraná River, with the hydro power plants that regulate our reservoir”, he added.


Carlos Mateo Balmelli, Itaipu's Paraguayan general director, highlighted the fact that the record is not Itaipu's alone but also the world's. He mentioned the factors pointed out by Samek as responsible for this yield and highlighted the top qualification of the employees, especially those from the power plant's technical division.


New records


Antonio Otélo Cardoso, executive technical director, assessed the important role of Itaipu's power conveyance system and said that the 2008 record may not last long, compared to the one set in 2000. “If the conditions remain favorable and the economy keeps growing, I believe that as early as 2009 we'll be able to surpass these figures”, he said.


Carlos Alberto Knakiewicz, Operations superintendent, pointed out that, if it is up to the technical staff, new marks will be reached. “Except for the factors beyond our control, like the incidence of rain and the consumption of electricity, it's important that we have the best possible results in that which we directly influence, like the plant's operation and maintenance, something we have fortunately achieved”, he evaluated.


Market share


If on the one hand the plant has broken its own top record, on the other it closed 2008 with a 19% share in the Brazilian power consumption, the same as in 2007. This is the lowest rate since 1992, when the plant started operating with 18 generator units – today there are 20. In 2000, the year of the previous record, Itaipu accounted for 25% of the power demand in the Brazilian market. In 1995 and 1997, this share reached 26%.


That is why 2008 was, according to Jorge Samek, the year of a double victory. To the Brazilian general director, in addition to the historic mark, new developments have been enriching the Brazilian power grid and gradually cementing the decrease in Itaipu's relative importance for the country. “This is positive because it lessens Brazil's dependence on a single source and shows that the government is paying attention to the energy issue”, he concluded.