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Brazil’s Eletrobras unveils plans to invest US$1.6 billion in modernization

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Eletrobras has announced a R$8.3 (US$1.6) billion program to purchase more modern equipment and modernize and digitalize its plants between 2021 and 2025.

A hydroelectric plant’s aging process, with the wear and tear of turbines and installed equipment, has a direct impact on its efficiency.

Throughout its operation, the units are often unavailable for maintenance, thus affecting the generation volume. According to data from the Energy Research Company (EPE), in recent years the availability index of hydroelectric plants between 59 MW and 699 MW has decreased, and one of the reasons may be the effects of time on equipment.

Eletrobras will purchase more modern equipment and modernize and digitalize its plants between 2021 and 2025. (Photo internet reproduction)

In addition to repowering, which involves an increase in installed capacity, this issue can be solved with modernization projects that improve the plant’s operation.

“Despite not increasing power, modernization increases efficiency and allows the plant to generate for longer, which is good for the system,” says the CEO of GE Renewable Energy’s Hydro division in Latin America Cláudio Trejger.

The current technology can also improve plant performance, with solutions that monitor and enable remote operation, he says.

The projects include large group units such as Paulo Afonso IV, Sobradinho, Xingó, Marimbondo, Itumbiara, and Tucuruí. In a note, the state-owned company said that the goal is to minimize the risks of interruptions in hydroelectric plant operation.

Another company focusing on modernization is AES Tietê. Of the company’s 9 units, only 3 have yet to complete the process. “Over time, the turbine produces less and loses efficiency. With these improvements the plant will have fewer breakdowns and generate more,” says the Director of Operations at AES Brasil Anderson Oliveira.

According to him, the new technologies cut costs and increase the plant’s availability. “The new turbines have sensors that monitor leakage, vibration and voltage.”


The Ministry of Mines and Energy says in a statement that, according to the Ten-Year Energy Plan, hydroelectric expansion is expected to reach 4,300 MW by 2030 with the modernization of existing plants.

“However, for this to be achieved, the current form of remuneration for hydroelectric plant attributes, such as capacity, needs to evolve,” the Ministry says, pointing out that methodological and market design improvements in accordance with the Modernization Implementation Committee’s work are required.

“The reassessment of these plants’ potential may be an opportunity for the country’s hydroelectricity industry,” the Ministry says.

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