Brazil’s hydroelectric dam boom is bringing tensions as well as energy

Juan Forero – The Guardian, 02/12/2013

When it is completed in 2015, the Jirau hydroelectric dam will span 8km across the Madeira river and feature more giant turbines than any other dam in the world. Then there are the power lines, draped along 2,250km of forests and fields to carry electricity to Brazil‘s urban nerve centre, São Paulo.

Still, it won’t be enough. The dam and the Santo Antonio complex that is being built a few kilometres downstream will provide just 5% of what government energy planners say the country will need in the next 10 years. So Brazil is building many more dams, courting controversy by locating the vast majority in the world’s largest and most biodiverse forest.

“The investment to build these plants is very high, and they are to be put in a region which is an icon for environmental preservation, the Amazon,” said Paulo Domingues, energy planning director for the ministry of mines and energy. “So that has worldwide repercussions.”

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