Brazil Builds More Dams Across the Amazon
When it is completed in 2015, the Jirau hydroelectric dam will span five miles across the Madeira River, feature more giant turbines than any other dam in the world and hold as much concrete as 47 towers the size of the Empire State Building.
And then there are the power lines, draped along 1,400 miles of forests and fields to carry electricity from here in the center of South America to Brazil’s urban nerve center, Sao Paulo.
Still, it won’t be enough.
The dam and the Santo Antonio complex that is being built a few miles downstream will provide just 5 percent of what government energy planners say the country will need in the next 10 years. So Brazil is building more dams, many more, courting controversy by locating the vast majority of them 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.”
Brazil builds more dams
Between now and 2021, the energy ministry’s building schedule will be feverish: Brazilian companies and foreign conglomerates will put up 34 sizable dams in an effort to increase the country’s capacity to produce energy by more than 50 percent.
The Brazil projects have received less attention than China’s dam-building spree, which has plugged up canyons and bankrolled hydroelectric projects far from Asia.
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