Brazil’s President Henrique Cardosa inaugurated the US$5B Sergio Motta dam on 23 February. Cardoso said the project will help to satisfy the country’s growing electricity needs.

The Sergio Motta dam, located around 590km northwest of Sao Paulo on Brazil’s Parana river, will generate 1814MW by 2003, when all of its 18 turbines are operating. At the time of the inauguration Cardoso activated the first three turbines, which have a combined capacity of 300MW.

Construction of the dam began in 1980 and was scheduled to last eight years. However, work was delayed due to financing problems and to reduced demand in the early 1990s. The dam is one of 21 hydroelectric plants operated by the Sao Paulo State Electric Power Company, all of which are due to be privatised this year.

International Rivers Network, the California-based anti dam group, has opposed the dam, calling it an ‘ecological disaster’.