Engineering

Grand Opening in Belo Monte: Hydroelectric Power Plant

Belo Monte turbine is on. The huge 11.233 MW hydropower plant in Brazil supply harmlessly 60 million people with energy, harms but also the indigenous population. 

The first turbines of Belo Monte have started operations on May 5, 2016. Their performance to the commercial electricity production amounts to 649,9 MW. After 2019, Belo Monte the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world to be and have a capacity of 11.233 MW. That is sufficient to provide 60 million people with energy.

Hydroelectric Power Plant Dilma-Rousseff
Brasilian President: Dilma Rousseff

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff was on-site and spoke of a terrific feat of engineering. The planning goes back to year 1975, however in that time economic situation didn’t allow to begin with construction. Now after over 40 years construction is over.

Reservoir Lake “Constance”

Belo Monte is located on the Rio Xingu, a river of the Amazon in Brazil, around 40 km from the town of Altamira. The power plant operators dam the River about three dams to two reservoirs with a total area of 516 km2, roughly the size of Lake Constance. 20 so-called Francis spiral turbines to generate energy. You put water through pipe in additional swirl and then direct it on the opposite curved blades of the wheel. You can reach this an efficiency of over 90% and a capacity of 550 MW. In addition nine turbines with 25.9 MW each are in Belo Monte power used.

Greenpeace: Bela Monte is the least efficient dam in Brazil

But not everyone is convinced by the performance of the power plant. The environmental protection organization Greenpeace about considers 11 billion euro Hydro for the most inefficient dam in Brazil’s long dry period can provide only about 10 percent of its nominal power during the three to five months.

Averaged over a year only 39% efficiency results from it. Still puts Brazil on this form of electricity due to the lack of fossil fuels and produces hydroelectric power plants today around 80% of the current. Itaipu is one of the plants in the South of the border to Paraguay. Before the completion of the Chinese Three Gorges Dam, it was the largest hydropower plant in the world with a capacity of 14,000 MW.

Settlers brought new diseases to the Indians

The launch of the first turbines of Belo Monte means a setback for environmentalists from around the world. To see through the project threatens the livelihoods of the Indians living in the Xingu River among other things, because the rivers carry less water and fisheries suffers. The Juruna, whose territory is located below the dam Pimental are particularly affected.

An additional risk from the 20,000 workers and new settlers. You carry diseases like the flu, against the Indians have only weak defenses. And also the climate seems threatened. Why? Because in the vast reservoirs under water biomass rots and releases methane. And that is often more damaging to climate than CO2.

German companies in the cross-fire of environmentalists

For this, German firms are coming in the cross-fire of environmentalists. “This country deserves the industry well in this environment and human-rights disaster. Approximately 1.3 billion euros to European companies”, writes the Association “Save the rain forest”. Alone Voith hydro, a joint venture between Voith and Siemens, have received a volume of 443 million euros. The joint venture produces 320 tons wheels for Belo Monte.