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Itaipu surpasses Three Gorges and is once again global electric power production leader
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At 00:10 am of Saturday the 17th (Brazilian summer time), or 11:10 pm of Friday the 16th (plant time), Itaipu Binational reached 98,800,319 megawatts-hour (MWh) and supplanted the Three Gorges power plant in China. The record number was reached 13 hours after Itaipu exceeded its record of 98.6 million MWh recorded in 2013.

The world record in annual power generation is added to the record already held by Itaipu: of highest accumulated production. Since its first generating unit went into operation in May of 1984, 32 years and seven months ago, Itaipu has already produced over 2.4 billion MWh, enough power to meet global demand for 40 days.

14 days before the end of 2016 and operating at full capacity, on Wednesday the 21st, Itaipu should reach the unprecedented goal of 100 million MWh stipulated in the 2013 record. Total production in 2016 should exceed 102.5 million MWh, something that was never imagined even by those who designed the power plant.

For the Brazilian general director, Jorge Samek, "the ability of the plant’s technicians and the good management of resources once again prove that we really have a vocation for breaking records ". For him, from now on, "it will be very hard to surpass Itaipu. Having the largest structure isn’t enough to be the best in the world. We have achieved this with a lot of work and commitment, taking into account the interests of Brazil and Paraguay, and of course, with the help of the good water conditions of the Paraná River”.

For the Paraguayan general director, James Spalding, Itaipu is extremely important for Brazil, but it is also increasingly becoming vital for Paraguay, which will rapidly be using half of the power to which it is entitled.

The executive technical director, Airton Dipp, said that both titles as the world’s largest (annual and accumulated generation) represent not only status for Itaipu, but they mean that the plant provides even more benefits for Brazil and Paraguay. The higher production this year made Itaipu increase its share in the Brazilian and Paraguayan electric power markets. “Itaipu currently accounts for 18% of domestic consumption, four percentage points more than recorded last year, and for 82% of Paraguay’s demand, which was 76% in 2015”.

The increase in production also reflected in more royalties (compensation for the exploitation of water use for the generation of electric power), paid to Brazil and Paraguay. Because the calculation is based on the variation of the dollar and because the dollar was valued in comparison to the real, the payment of royalties based on this year’s production will be 15% higher. From the beginning of payment in 1985, the sum of royalties paid by Itaipu for both countries exceeds US$ 10 billion.

For the technical director, Paraguayan José Sánchez Tilleria, 2016 represents an unprecedented year in the history of Itaipu. "It’s a milestone for the plant’s operation”, he said.

Itaipu versus Three Gorges

This year, Three Gorges, which closed November generating approximately 83 million MWh, estimates a total production of 90 million MWh. If the Itaipu projections are confirmed, the final advantage in comparison to the Chinese plant will be over 10 million MWh, the equivalent to over a month of generation.

With 22 thousand megawatts (MW) of installed power compared to 14 thousand MW of the Itaipu plant, in other words, 60% more, the Chinese Three Gorges plant began operating at full capacity in 2012. However, with installed capacity of far superior equipment, Three Gorges was only able to produce more than Itaipu in 2014, when Brazil was facing a severe drought and water generation was hindered.