Construction is now underway on the second stage of the Tucuruí hydroelectric power plant in Brazil. When the the eleven 380 MWe units of this second phase are completed, by 2003, the total capacity of the plant will be around 8400 MWe making it the largest fully Brazilian hydro station.

Tucuruí is located on the Tocantins river, 350 km south of Belém, capital of the state of Pará, within a mineral-rich area. The first phase, consisting of 12 main generating units, was inaugurated in November 1984. At 4250 MWe installed capacity, even this first phase is the fourth largest hydroelectric power plant in the world and the largest fully Brazilian plant, boasting the biggest spillway on Earth.

Currently, the power generated in Tucuruí benefits a population of more than six million people, including the whole of the Amazon region, supplying state power concessionaires and serving large industrial consumers, mainly companies in the aluminium, iron and silicon business, in a region otherwise lacking clean, safe and renewable electric power.

To accommodate the new phase a major upgrade is being undertaken of the already large transmission system associated with Phase I, which includes 2930 km of 500 kV transmission lines, 630 km of 230 kV lines and 11 substations.

The first of the Phase II generating units, number 13 at the site, is scheduled to enter operation in May 2000, with the other ten units following at four-month intervals, until September 2006 when there will be 23 generating units operating. Contract for Phase II

A contract for supply of equipment to Phase II of the project was awarded in February 2000 to a consortium led by Alstom, the other members being GE Hydro, Inepar-Fem and Odebrecht.

The contract was awarded by the plant’s owner/operator, Electronorte, a subsidiary of Electrobras. Phase II, financed by Electrobras and BNDES, includes supply, erection and commissioning of the 11 new units as well as intake gates, penstocks, stop-logs for draft tubes, cranes, protection and control systems and and insulated busbars.

Alstom is supplying eight turbines and eight generators, together with control, command and protection systems for all the new machines as well as retrofit of the existing 12 units with improved control and protection systems. Manufacturing of the Alstom turbines and generators will be carried out in Brazil at Alstom’s Tabaute factory. The total value of the Alstom supply will be US $ 290 million.

GE Hydro will supply three turbines and three generators, with a total value of about US $ 65 million.

Inepar-Fem will supply a range of major equipment including floodgates, to the value of around US $ 30 million, while Odebrecht’s scope, estimated at about US $ 66 million, will be assembly.

Phase II of Tucuruí is designed to have minimal additional environmental impact. The new power house is being built alongside that for Phase I and the intention is to add the new generating capacity without increasing the size of the reservoir. The reservoir volume is 45.8 m3.

Centrais Elétricas do Norte do Brasil SA – Electronorte – was established in 1973, with responsibility for power generation and transmission in north Brazil. Its operating area represents 58 per cent of the national territory of Brazil, comprising the states of Pará, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Rondônia, Roraima, Acre, Amapá, Tocantis and Maranhão.

Since its founding, Electronorte has invested about R$14 billion in the region, increasing its installed generation capacity from 40 MWe to some 5563 MWe today. 4751 is in four hydro plants, Tucuruí, Balbina, Samuel and Coaracy Nunes, while 812 MWe is in the form of 12 thermal plants. From the start of Phase I of Tucuruí, Electronorte has been engaged in programmes aimed at the continued development of the area’s native Indian population, including funding of health care, education, promotion of Indian language and culture.