Brazil to count on nuclear, wind to meet thirst for power

11 February 2009 – Brazilian Energy Minister Edson Lobão, Brazil has said that the Latin American nation needs to increase its electricity generation capacity by 50 per cent over the next ten years.

Describing the task as an “enormous challenge” for the country, he said that Brazil needed to add 51 GW in the next ten years, or more than 5 GW a year.

Nevertheless, he said that target may have to be revised depending on the impact of the global financial crisis in Brazil, since the country’s electricity needs have been calculated on the basis of estimated economic growth of 4.9 per cent annually, a forecast made prior to the financial meltdown.

The Brazilian Central Bank estimates that because of the crisis, the country will grow at a rate of around 3 per cent, although the International Monetary Fund and other organizations are forecasting growth of between 1.8 and 2 per cent in 2009 and 3.5 per cent in 2010.

Lobão said that in addition to boosting output the country must shift to different methods of generating electricity; he said the goal is a reduction of at least ten percentage points in the amount produced by hydroelectric plants, which today accounts for 85 per cent of the country’s electricity consumption.

He said the plans call for more wind energy plants and the construction of four new nuclear plants, in addition to the two currently in operation at Angra dos Reis, a coastal city 150km from Rio de Janeiro.

Construction of the four nuclear power plants is to be put out to tender in the middle of this year, according to Lobão, who said those plans could change depending on Brazil’s economic performance.