Hydro lending boosts Brazil bank allotments to US$5.12 billion

Brazil’s national development bank says hydroelectric sector lending of 10 billion reais (US$4.27 billion) will boost its total disbursements in 2009 to 12 billion reais (US$5.12 billion).

Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES) told state-run Agencia Brasil the largest allotments, totaling 4 billion reais (US$1.7 billion), will be to the giant hydro projects planned for the Madeira River in Rondonia State, 3,150-MW Santo Antonio (HNN 12/30/08) and 3,300-MW Jirau. (HNN 5/1/08)

By comparison, BNDES disbursed a total of 7 billion reais (US$2.9 billion) in 2008.

Nelson Siffert, the head of BNDES’ Department of Energy, said the Madeira River plants represent an investment of 27 billion reais (US$11.5 billion) by 2015: 10 billion reais (US$4.27 billion) each to Santo Antonio and Jirau and another 7 billion reais (US$2.9 billion) for transmission lines.

Siffert said the electric sector has been a traditional area of lending for BNDES since it was created in the 1950s. He said the bank currently is participating in financing more than 20 hydroelectric projects employing more than 20,000 people. Some are to begin operation in 2012, while others are to start up in 2014.

With almost 75 percent of its electricity coming from hydropower, Brazil has a very clean energy matrix, Siffert said. He said the Amazon region is one of the most important energy sources for Brazil with a potential capacity of 100,000 MW. He said Brazil could triple it energy portfolio with hydropower.

Siffert advocated the adoption of priority areas for energy production through ecological zoning. He said smaller reservoirs are being developed due to public opposition to large reservoirs. He noted the potential capacity of Santo Antonio was reduced by 2,000 MW to meet requirements of environmental agencies.

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