GE has signed an agreement to upgrade a large hydropower plant in South America

Itaipu began generating electricity in 1984, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. Technical improvements to the site take 14 years.

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GE Renewable Energy has signed an agreement to upgrade a 14 gigawatt Itaipu hydropower plant spread across the Brazil-Paraguay border.

In a statement earlier this week, GE said renewable energy had signed a 14-year contract with its hydro and grid solutions businesses. Paraguayan companies CIE and Tecnoedil will support the project.

Among other things, the GE said the upgrades would “improve the equipment and systems of all 20 power generation units and the measurement, safety, control, regulation and monitoring systems of the hydropower plant.”

In 2018, GE said it had been selected to “provide electrical equipment for the initial stages” of a federal dam modernization project set up by GE Power and CIE Sociedad Anonima.

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Itaipu started generating electricity in 1984. Itaipu Binacional’s website states that the facility “provides 10.8% of the energy consumed in Brazil and 88.5% of the energy consumed in Paraguay”.

In terms of capacity, it is the second largest hydropower plant in the world after China’s 22.5 GW Three Gorges Dam.

According to the International Energy Agency, hydropower generation will reach 4,418 terawatt hours by 2020, “the largest source of renewable electricity, producing more than all other renewable technologies.”

The IEA says nearly 40% of the planet’s hydroelectric navy is at least 40 years old. “When hydropower plants are 45-60 years old, major modernization alignments are needed to improve their performance and increase their flexibility,” it says. At age 38, the gap appears to be at the peak of this threshold.

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Hydroelectricity has its supporters, but there are also concerns about the industry’s environmental footprint.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that hydropower generators “do not emit air pollution directly”, while other factors related to dams, reservoirs and generators can have an impact.

“A dam that forms a reservoir (or a dam that diverts water to a river hydropower station) can prevent fish from migrating,” it says, adding that dams and reservoirs can “change the natural water temperature, hydrochemistry, and river. Flow characteristics and sediment loads.”

In addition, the EIA says reservoirs could cover areas including archeological sites and land used for agriculture. “The function of a reservoir and dam can also displace people,” it says.

At the end of April, GE Its renewable division suffered a loss of $ 434 million in the first quarter of 2022, compared to a loss of $ 234 million in the first quarter of 2021. Renewable energy revenue was $ 2.87 billion, down from $ 3.24 billion in the first quarter of 2021. .

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