The world's largest generator of renewable clean energy

Itaipu holds the title of largest power producer in the world
Font Size

In the fierce race for the title of largest producer of clean, renewable energy on the planet, Itaipu Binational left behind the Three Gorges plant in China, and kept its world leadership. In 2012, Itaipu produced 98.287 million megawatt-hours (MWh) compared to 98.107 million MWh from the Chinese power plant. This is an advantage to Itaipu of 180 thousand MWh, something around 16 hours of generation, having any of these giants of production as a reference.

Normally, the Three Gorges power plant only releases its monthly production ten days afterwards, while Itaipu releases its generation in real time (online). On Thursday, January 3, Itaipu received from the Three Gorges board the official production numbers from 2012, confirming the projection already made by the Binational technicians.

At some moments during the past year, the generation by Three Gorges, which operates at full load since July was better than that by Itaipu, which should occur with increasing frequency, as the Chinese power plant’s installed power (amount of generation equipment) is 60% higher than the Brazilian and Paraguayan hydroelectric.

The Chinese giant has 32 generating units and an installed capacity of 22.5 thousand MW, while Itaipu has 20 units and an installed capacity of 14 thousand MW. The hydrologic conditions of both, however, are quite different. One of the problems of Three Gorges is the irregular flow, but this should improve with the building of two new plants in the Yangtze River.

By October 2012, the cumulative production of the Chinese power plant was 87.33 million MWh, compared to 84.95 million MWh by Itaipu, a difference of 2.38 million MWh in favor of Three Gorges. On November 30, the advantage even increased to 3 million MWh, but from there the Yangtze river flow began to decrease, while the Paraná River, even under the effect of the drought, experienced no significant variations.

On December 10, this difference had fallen to 1.3 million MWh. On the 19th, the last bulletin released by the Three Gorges power plant showed that the advantage was still 1 million MWh. The chances of Itaipu having a production superior to that of the Chinese plant were small, since, usually, the electricity consumption in Brazil decreases in December, with the vacation of the industries. This year, however, there was an explosion of residential and commercial demand due to the intense heat, with temperatures above 40 degrees, requiring Itaipu to operate at full load.

 “The equipment of the plant had a flawless performance. The supervision and control of the plant were conducted with skill and the Brazil and Paraguay Transmission Systems of corresponded fully. With that, we closed the year with a total of 98.287 million MWh and established a new global mark,” said the Brazilian director-general at Itaipu, Jorge Samek.

For Samek, more important than celebrating the title of world's largest producer, is to ensure that Itaipu is prepared to supply with safety the electrical systems of Brazil and Paraguay keeping the good existing partnerships with the National System Operator, Eletrobras, the Ande (Paraguayan state company), Furnas and Copel.

The Operation superintendent of the plant, the engineer Celso Torino, says the challenge is to increasingly seek excellence in plant performance indices. “It's good to keep the title of world's largest producer, but our goal is to ensure compliance with national and Paraguayan electrical systems efficiently and securely,” he says.


While electricity consumption in Brazil grew 3.3% in 2012, compared with the previous year, the Itaipu production increased 6.5%. Thus, the participation of the plant in the Brazilian market, which had been gradually diminishing with the start of operations of new projects in the electricity sector also grew, reaching 19.85% in 2012. The plant also serves more than 80% of all electricity demand in Paraguay, a partner in the binational plant.