Report: Brazil’s incoming energy minister says new large hydropower not feasible

Brazil’s incoming energy minister, admiral Bento Costa Lima Leite de Albuquerque Junior, believes it is not feasible to build new large hydropower plants in the country, according to BNamericas.

The country’s environmental and water supply issues make it difficult to build new projects of this kind, Albuquerque Junior said in an interview with local daily Folha de Sao Paulo, the first after his name was announced by president-elect Jair Bolsonaro last week.

He defended the focus on diversifying the country’s energy matrix and the need to make innovations, such as the use of smart energy meters that allow independent energy consumers to supply load to the grid.

He also confirmed that he is in favor of continuing construction of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant, which was halted in 2015. In addition, the admiral expects to stimulate uranium exploration in the country, with the goal of starting exports of nuclear fuel.

Albuquerque Junior said he is not opposed to the privatization of power holding company Eletrobras, but said he still needs to study the subject further.

“What we want is to have energy so that we can give investors confidence that they will be able to invest in certain sectors,” he said.

BNamericas did not indicate what size of hydro Albuquerque Junior considers “large,” but this news is interesting in light of recent promises by Bolsonaro that he would speed the environmental licensing processes for large-scale hydro projects.

Just last month, we reported that Brazil needs about US$260 million to fund feasibility studies for new medium-sized hydro projects, which were listed as 50 MW to 1,000 MW in capacity.

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