Itaipu production in 2016 should once again exceed 90 million MWh
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In 2016, the expectation is that the Itaipu power plant will again produce over 90 million megawatt-hours (MWh), which did not happen in the last two years. In 2014 and 2015, when Brazil faced one of the worst droughts in history, the annual volume produced by the power plant, which again was key to making ends meet in the country's electricity sector, was around 87 million and 89.5 million MWh. Even producing below 90 million during this period, the average over the past five years was approximately 93 million MWh.
The expectation for 2016 is based on the weather forecasts, the good performance of the plant and also the behavior of the transmission and consumption systems, both in Brazil and in Paraguay. With the expected prolongation of the El Nino effect until autumn - one of the most intense of all times-, rainfall in the incremental basin, where the dam is located, should be above average.
Itaipu’s executive technical director, Airton Dipp, believes that the plant will be fully able to overcome the barrier of 90 million MWh. "The outlook for the year is positive, enabling us to produce more and on a sustainable basis, thus ensuring the energy that Brazil and Paraguay need to develop," he says.
The waters of the incremental basin typically account for 20% of total raw material the plant receives to generate power. For a few months in 2015, it represented double, about 40% of the total volume. But the rest, that is, 80% of the water received by Itaipu, comes from the Southeast. The use of reservoirs located above Itaipu will continue with careful coordination of the National System Operator (ONS), focusing on the optimization of the system as a whole. The expected overall result of water at Itaipu is that there will not be great variations, especially during the first semester, allowing for improvement in the operating performance.
According to Itaipu’s Superintendent of Operations, Celso Torino, as in 2015, chances are good that the plant will repeat the excellent levels of operating performance in 2016. "This year, we had availability and a forced unavailability from generating units close to 96% and 0.1%, respectively, and an Operating Load Factor, index that measures the efficiency of the use of water, above 97%," he explains.
Olympic Games
During August next year, the electricity sector will have all its attention focused on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The event requires special safety measures from the energy sector, as it was during the World Cup. It will be necessary to take previous actions to harmonize safety and energy optimization, including at Itaipu.
Itaipu will be even more important during that period, which may coincide with possible flooding in the incremental basin water supply for the plant. The plant will adopt all reservoir management measures to minimize or possibly even prevent spillages, which occur when the water does not pass through the turbines to generate power.
"The plant's contributions to meet peak power consumption in Brazil and Paraguay, especially during the summer period, will continue to be key in 2016," said Torino. "The plant's ability to respond to consumption peaks and possible unscheduled interruptions of supply and generation supply offers from other plants is something extraordinary and independent of its energy situation. After all, it's not just any plant that has a hydraulic supply that is clean, fast and continual, with an output of 14,000 MW."