GE to start modernization of 14-GW Itaipu hydro power plant

Itaipu Binacional has chosen the GE consortium, established by GE Power and CIE Sociedad Anonima, to provide electrical equipment for the early stages of the modernization project of the 14-GW Itaipu hydro power plant.

Located on the Parana River on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, the Itaipu hydroelectric facility has a capacity large enough to meet 75% of Paraguay’s total electricity needs and about 15% of Brazil’s at the same time. The plant has produced more than 2.5 billion MWh of electricity since 1984.

According to a press release from GE, Itaipu Binacional recently announced a 10-year program to modernize the plant, replacing obsolete equipment installed 30 years ago with more advanced technologies and machinery.

“Regarded as a great source of national pride, the Itaipu hydroelectric plant has produced more electricity than any other hydro infrastructure in the world. In 2016, it also set a new world record for annual energy generation with the production of 103.1 million MWh,” said Mauro Jose Corbellini, executive techinical director of Itaipu Binacional. “The modernization of this monumental site will breathe new life into the decades-old infrastructure, and the partnership with GE is the first crucial step to start the journey.”

The three-year contract will focus on the electrical modernization of the 24 overhead cranes, essential to lift the heavy equipment — such as hydro turbines — for the modernization. The lifting equipment, dating from 1984, has a capacity from 10 tons up to 1,000 tons. For this mission, GE will provide AC motors, low-voltage drives and programmable logical controllers and encoders, which will help extend the cranes’ lifetime for another 20 years.

This upgrade will be part of a global modernization project, which is expected to take a decade.

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