Report: 11,182-MW Belo Monte only feasible site on Brazil river

A newly completed inventory of the Xingu River Basin finds only the 11,182-MW Belo Monte hydroelectric project to be feasible and dismisses the idea of developing other previously identified hydro sites.

Brazil federal utility Centrais Eletricas do Norte do Brasil (Eletronorte) reported its utility holding company, Eletrobras, submitted the inventory to electricity regulator Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica (ANEEL), updating basin studies conducted in the 1970s and 1980s.

Based on current technical, economic, and environmental factors, the inventory concluded only Belo Monte could be developed. The earlier studies had also considered development of a separate 20,000-MW project on the Xingu that would have inundated 18,300 square kilometers. By contract, Belo Monte would inundate 440 square kilometers.

Eletronorte said ANEEL is expected to approve the inventory within a few days, authorizing the beginning of a revised feasibility study of Belo Monte. That would serve as the basis of a concession auction expected in the next two years.

A Brazilian official previously said the government hopes to seek tenders in 2009 for development of the first stage of Belo Monte in Para State. (HNN 8/24/07) A judge in April dismissed an environmental lawsuit against the project.

The 7 billion reais (US$3.5 billion) project is expected to be built in two stages, with the first stage totaling 5,500 MW.

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