Brazil, Argentina agree to speed development of 1,800-MW Garabi

The presidents of Brazil and Argentina agreed February 22 to accelerate the development of the 1,800-MW Garabi hydroelectric project on their common border, the Uruguai River.

During a visit by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Buenos Aires, the leaders agreed to start the process this year to build Garabi.

The leaders also agreed to develop a nuclear reactor and enrich uranium jointly, to launch a satellite together, to build new Uruguai River bridges, and to cooperate further on energy issues.

Lula and Fernandez approved a schedule of activities for preliminary studies of the Garabi bi-national hydropower project, official Agencia Brasil reported. The schedule foresees solicitation of studies in about March, regulatory work between April and September, conclusion of feasibility studies between September 2009 and August 2010, conclusion of an environmental study and completion of an environmental impact report between December 2009 and March 2011.

The latest description of the project anticipates construction of up to three hydroelectric plants totaling 1,800 MW for an investment of about US$2 billion. It is to be located at Garruchos in three states, Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and Misiones and Corrientes in Argentina.

Last year, Marcio Zimmermann, secretary of planning and energy development for Brazil’s Ministerio de Minas e Energia, said Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras S/A of Brazil and Ibiza of Argentina were re-inventorying the Uruguai’s hydro potential in view of increased environmental requirements of the last 20 years. (HNN 8/24/07)

Garabi had been shelved in the 1990s as infeasible due to high environmental and social effects. Although the project originally was planned to be 1,860 MW, it was proposed to expand it to three 900-MW dams totaling 2,700 MW. Latest reports indicate the recent studies again scaled back the size of the project.


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