TH!NK post

Stop Belo Monte dam construction

Published 30th October 2010 - 8 comments - 2683 views -

In a previous post, there are few comments about Brazilian energy portfolio. Brazil´s bet on hydroelectrical usines comes from Itaipu. But, that usine is a “God-gift” in terms of cost x benefit because produces 20% of Brazil´s energy needs with a low environmental impact, and better: near of great urban centers of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Since 2003, Brazil has had a good economic growth. In 2010, the expected growth rate is about 7%. Economic growth means increasing energy needs. To suply this demand, Brazil started the building of three hydroelectrical usines at Amazonia´s heart: Santo Antonio and Jirau, at Madeira River; Belo Monte, at Xingu River.

This buildings are part of Acceleration Growth Program (PAC, in portuguese acronym), a set of infrastructure buildings that includes dams, roads, hospitals and schools. This program impeled Dilma Rouseff ´s candidacy for Presidency. Of curse, the necessity of energy is plenty clear, but there are several reason to stop – at least rediscuss Belo Monte dam project.

NGO Xingu Vivo (Live Xingu), is working to show the social, economical and enviromental damages that Belo Monte construction will cause. A letter was sent to Ms Rousseff and to Mr José Serra, the two contenders in the second round of Brazilian election (see also this post about Marina Silva). The document states some of this issues. Lets see a little bit more:

Farce is how they call the environmental licensing process of Belo Monte dam. According to the NGO members, there was political pressure to start the building without properly discussion of all problems related to the construction. This pressure caused the dismissal of licensing director of Ibama (National Environment Institute - the federal agency). 

Economical impacts
Ironically, this is the one of biggest reasons to stop Belo Monte building. The estimated energy generation of the usine is 11 thousand MW. But the real generation will be only 4,5 thousand MW: an efficiency of only 40%. With a cost of  US$ 18 billion.

Social impacts
The waterlogged area is about 640km2 (same as Curitiba – Parana State Capital), in 11 different cities of Para State. This construction will directly affect more than 300 thousand people. Panelists who made the studies affirm that part of Xingu River will suffer drought.

Environmental impacts
This presentation
shows the amount of Greenhouse Gases not sequestred by the trees that will disappear under water, in the soppy area of the Belo Monte dam. Another study shows that the GHG emissions balance of Babaquara-Belo Monte complex will be negative. Here, you can read the environmental impact studies.

Legal Issues
In this page
(in portuguese), there are some documents explaining all legal issues over the Belo Monte building. Some Brazlian Justice decision are very controversial. Here, you can read a cronology of dam buildings in Amazonia (in portuguese).

The solution?
Stop the building, rediscuss all licensing process – considering all environmental/social/economical impact studies. And invest in other renewable energy sources, as shows this WWF presentation (in english).

Photo: Project illstration showing soppy areas

Category: Alternative Energies, | Tags:


Diêgo Lôbo Goiabeira on 31st October 2010:

Hi Charles, I am glad you wrote this issue. I have discussed a lot about Belo Monte lately. I think it is insane! Belo Monte is old-fashioned, an outdated technology. Brazil is investing in the past.
Thousands of traditional people will have to move due to the ignorance of our government, due to their economic interests… no one will be benefited by Belo Monte, only the agribusiness on Amazon, of course. It is too much money, we could invest on new technologies, renewable, energy efficiency…

Charles Jungles Nisz Lourenco on 10th November 2010:

Lets spread this post, Diego?

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