Brazil scrambles to avoid power rationing as costs soar

Jeb Blount – Reuters, 3/24/2014

Brazil is fighting against time to avoid crippling power blackouts and electricity rationing as a drought prevents the world’s most water-rich nation from recharging its hydroelectric dams.

A decade of growth has diversified the electricity system away from hydropower, but policymakers, industrial companies and investors in the world’s seventh-largest economymay find little cause to relax.

Rio de Janeiro-based energy consultancy PSR puts the odds of rationing at nearly 1 in 4.

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In Brazil, the wind is blowing in a new era of renewable energy

Juan Forero – Washington Post, 10/30/2013

With its abundant dams and rivers that carry more fresh water than any other country, Brazil — big and bountiful — essentially runs on hydropower. But it turns out that the country can also count on a good strong breeze.

Wind is emerging as a prize for energy planners here who see the howling gusts that arrive from the east as a way to offset the fresh limits imposed on hydropower.

A string of wind-turbine parks is being erected in Brazil’s windiest stretches, in what planners see as the beginning of an extraordinary transformation. No one expects that wind will outpace dams as the main source of electricity here. But the goals remain audacious for a country that projects an annual increase in electricity consumption of up to 5 percent in coming years.

Brazil cools on nuclear power plans; favors wind

Brian Winter – Reuters, 09/15/2013

Brazil will probably scale down its plans for new nuclear plants due to safety concerns following the 2011 radiation leak in Japan and pick up some of the slack with a “revolution” in wind power, the head of the government’s energy planning agency said.

Mauricio Tolmasquim, chief of the Energy Research Company, told Reuters it was “unlikely” the government would stick to its plans to build four new nuclear plants by 2030 to meet rising demand for electricity.

He declined to specify how many might be built instead.

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Bow, arrow, facebook: Brazilian tribes fight for their land

Jens Glusing – Spiegel Online, 08/22/2013

When the helicopter appears above the tops of the mango trees, Alberto, a headman with the Terena tribe, raises his spear into the air, shouts a war cry and calls his men together. About 200 members of the tribe congregate on a meadow. Some shoot arrows at the helicopter, while others swing clubs and cock catapults. Many are wearing headdresses and war paint. “This land belongs to us!” the chief shouts. The helicopter rattles away into the distance.

The police helicopters fly across Fazenda Buriti, a large cattle range in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, two or three times a day. Indigenous people armed with clubs are guarding the entrance of the ranch, which they have occupied for the last three months.

Fazenda Buriti is one of 62 farms in the state that the indigenous people have overrun, part of their revolt against the government from the Amazon region to the southern Pampas area. They are fighting for their land, protecting the borders of their reservations, resisting the construction of hydroelectric power plants in their regions and protesting against the advance of the agricultural industry, which is destroying their homeland.

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In building the world’s third-largest dam, Brazil aims to build good social practices

Nina Wegner – Christian Science Monitor, 07/20/2013

Brazil is busy polishing its image in anticipation of hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, spending billions on budgets for border control, crime eradication, and public projects.

But while the construction of soccer stadiums and the war on crime grab headlines, Brazil’s largest and most expensive infrastructure project is hidden deep in the Amazon on the “Big Bend” of the Xingu River. There, the Belo Monte dam – the third largest dam in the world – is rapidly being built. And how the dam is completed could play an important role in shaping the future of one of the world’s last frontiers – the Amazon Rainforest.

“The effects of this dam will be better than any other dam in Brazil,” says Vilmar Soares, a co-founder of FORT Xingu, an organization that supports development in the Xingu Region. “This is the first hydroelectric dam in Brazil that implements a plan of regional development for when the dam is completed.”

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Brazil’s hydro dams could make its greenhouse emissions soar

Simeon Tegel – Global Post, 07/01/2013

Officials here frequently claim that the huge hydroelectric dams that increasingly dot the Brazilian Amazon are a source of “clean energy.”

The dams often involve flooding vast areas of rain forest, leading to a major loss of biodiversity and the devastating displacement of indigenous communities from their ancestral lands.

That is justified, President Dilma Rousseff claims, because they help fight climate change.

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Brazil: indian protestors to return to villages

Associated Press, 06/12/2013

Brazil’s government says more than 100 protesting Indians are expected to abandon the offices of the federal indigenous affairs agency and return to their villages Wednesday.

The chief administrative officer of the Brazilian presidency says 140 Mundurucu Indians occupied the offices of Funai on Monday to protest the construction of a huge hydroelectric dam in the Amazon rainforest.

Gilberto Carvalho says the government will ask a court to issue an eviction notice if the Indians refuse to leave.

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