Brazil’s federally-owned generator Eletronorte is nearing completion of the environment impact study for the US$3B Belo Monte hydro project to be built on the Xingu river in Para state. The project is currently awaiting resolution of a number of legal challenges to the project, which Eletronorte expects to be completed shortly.

Eletronorte has already completed the feasibility study for the project. If approved by Brazil’s energy policy council, federal electricity regulator ANEEL would then draw up bidding rules and terms of the concession. Eletronorte has modified the original project, reducing the total reservoir area to 400km2, from the original proposal of 1200km2, building two channels through the basin to cut off a larger U-bend in the river. The total installed capacity has been increased marginally to 11,189MW.

Eletronorte is also evaluating the feasibility of a third dam some 40km upriver from Belo Monte, at Altamira, which could provide a further 5000-6000MW, and would benefit Belo Monte by increasing the reservoir and extending the seasonality of water flow. It has been suggested this should be the last dam to be built on the Xingu river.