Brazilian federally owned power generator Furnas has identified three major hydroelectric projects with a total estimated capacity of 12,500MW on the Madeira river for possible development. Two of the projects are located in Brazil with one in Bolivia.

Furnas and Brazilian construction firm Norberto Odebrecht have carried out an inventory of the river’s potential and are negotiating to carry out a single feasibility study for the two projects in Brazil, along with an environmental impact assessment.

Pending the completion of studies by early next year, the utility hopes to seek approval from Brazil’s federal power regulator Aneel in the second half of 2004.

The two hydroelectric projects on the Brazilian section of the Madeira river are Santo Antonio (3580MW) and Jirau (3900MW). Both projects are based on the use of the large flow of water to generate power rather than a drop in the river level.

Furnas considers the environmental impact of the project to be minimal.