RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil must expand electricity production over the next decade by an amount equivalent to the power generated by three Itaipu hydroelectric dams, according to a study released Wednesday by the state-run Energy Research Corporation, or EPE.
Electricity consumption in Brazil will grow at an average rate of 4.5 percent annually over the next 10 years, climbing from 472,000 GWh in 2011 to 736,000 GWh in 2021, the EPE says.
That means that electricity demand in 2021 will be 56 percent higher than last year and that Brazil will have to increase its electricity production by 264,000 GWh over the next decade to keep pace.
That total is equivalent to almost triple the amount currently produced by Itaipu, which is jointly owned by Brazil and Paraguay and is the world’s second-largest hydroelectric power station by total capacity after China’s Three Gorges Dam.
With 92,245 GWh of electricity generated last year, Itaipu was the world’s largest hydroelectric facility in terms of annual generating capacity.
Brazil is counting on three large dams being built in the Amazon region and scheduled to come online in the coming years – Belo Monte, Santo Antonio and Jirau – to meet a portion of the additional electricity demand.
The largest of those is Belo Monte, a project on the Xingu River that has come under heavy criticism from environmentalists and local Indians and which is to generate 39,360 GWh starting in 2015.
The EPE expects the annual rise in Brazilian electricity consumption to be less than average annual gross domestic product growth in the same period, which it estimates will be 4.7 percent.
The commercial sector will account for the largest share of growth in electricity consumption over the next decade (5.8 percent annually), followed by the residential sector (4.5 percent) and industry (4.4 percent).
“Despite the elevated increase in consumption by the commercial sector and services, industry will remain the sector responsible for almost half of the country’s total electricity consumption in 2021,” the study says.
Electricity consumption by the industrial sector is projected to climb from 225,000 GWh in 2011 to 346,000 GWh in 2021. EFE