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Itaipu expects to surpass the limit of 100 million MWh/year
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Responsible for a world record in energy generation in 2008, with the production of 94.6 million MWh, the Itaipu hydroelectric power plant has began 2012 with an ambitious goal: to overcome the historic milestone and, in the coming years, surpass the limit of 100 million MWh. “It is both a goal and huge challenge, which we have undertaken this year. We will not rest until reaching this mark”, stated Itaipu's Brazilian general director, Jorge Samek, who also holds the position of executive technical director at the plant.

The projection takes the prognosis of recent years into account, along with a set of factors indispensible to the operational performance of the plant: favorable hydrological conditions; generator units operating at full capacity; an adequate number of transmission lines; and growing electric energy consumption needs.

The year began with the reservoir at its highest level in the last five years. With the start-up of the last two generator units – 9A and 18A, in 2007 – and the renowned quality of maintenance, no problems concerning the availability of the machines are expected.

The general director doesn’t see any demand problems on the horizon, either. “Paraguay has been one of the fastest growing countries in Latin America over the past two years, and Brazil is rapidly growing too. Our economy is booming. Nowadays, any point of Brazil’s growth involves billions of reais. So, we are sure to need a lot of energy in order to maintain this level of growth”, he stated.

The forth factor, which held back generation last year, began 2012 with a new perspective. “We had a problem with transmission, both in Paraguay and in Brazil. And the solution to this problem is currently underway”, said Samek, citing the construction of the 500 kV line linking Itaipu to Asunción; the reinforcement of the line Furnas installed at the Manoel Ribas substations (more commonly known as Ivaiporã) and, especially, Itaberá; and the start-up of the Copel line, also 500 kV, between Foz do Iguaçu and Cascavel.

“We’ll have water, there are investments in transmission, we are generating at full capacity and consumption remains high. Thus, our technicians, from both Brazil and Paraguay, expect to generate 100 million MWh within the next few years”, reiterated the general director.

Added to the four factors, Samek cites another two that may contribute to an increase in Itaipu's generation capacity. The first is a review of maintenance procedures. The idea is to increase the availability of the machines, without jeopardizing the degree of reliability.

Another planned review is of the Tripartite Agreement signed between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, which limits Itaipu’s operation to a maximum of 18 units running simultaneously. Negotiations are already underway and involve the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.