The Baixo Iguacu hydropower plant is located on the Iguacu River in Brazil. Image courtesy of Neoenergia.
The Baixo Iguacu hydropower plant was officially inaugurated in May 2019. Image courtesy of Iberdrola, S.A.
The installed capacity of the Baixo Iguacu hydroelectric facility is 350MW. Image courtesy of Odebrecht Engineering and Construction.

Baixo Iguacu hydroelectric power plant is a 350MW run-of-the-river project located on the Iguacu River, in the Parana state of Brazil, the Latin American country which generates more than 65% of its electricity from hydropower.

The project has been developed with an estimated investment of BRL2.3bn ($574.7m) by Consórcio Empreendedor Baixo Iguaçu (CEBI), a joint venture of Spanish electric utility company Iberdrola’s Brazilian subsidiary Neoenergia (70%) and Companhia Paranaense de Energia (Copel-30%). The joint venture is also the operator of the facility.

Construction on the project was started in February 2013 and commissioning took place in December 2018, while the facility was officially inaugurated in May 2019.

The first two generating units commenced commercial operation in February 2019, while the last unit was connected to the grid in April 2019.

The Baixo Iguacu hydroelectric plant is capable of producing sufficient clean renewable electricity for approximately one million people, while meeting 8% of the total electricity demand in Parana.

Apart from electricity generation, the Baixo Iguacu project is envisioned to regulate the water flow of the Iguacu Falls, which is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a major tourist attraction.

The Baixo Iguacu dam project is estimated to have created approximately 3,000 jobs during the construction phase.

Baixo Iguacu hydroelectric plant location and site details

Baixo Iguacu hydroelectric facility is situated upstream of the Iguacu Falls, between the municipalities of Capanemato and Captiao Leonidas Marques, and between the  Governador Jose Richa hydro power plant and the Iguacu National Park, in the south-east of Parana.

The 13.5km² flooded area of the Baixo Iguacu dam encompasses the municipal districts of Realeza, Planalto, and Nova Prata do Iguacu.

Baixo Iguacu hydroelectric plant make-up

The Baixo Iguacu hydroelectric facility comprises a 516m-long dam that creates a 31km² reservoir and a powerhouse equipped with three vertical Kaplan hydro turbine generator units of 119MW rated capacity each.

Baixo Iguacu is designed as a low-head hydro project that operates at a gross head of 15.7m. Kaplan turbines were chosen to minimize the flooding area, making it the first hydropower facility on the Iguacu River to use such turbines.

Other facilities for the power station include a spillway and an electrical substation for power evacuation.

The Baixo Iguacu hydropower facility is operated with a modern control system, with the plant operations remotely controlled by the Neoenergia operations centre in Brazil’s capital city Rio de Janeiro, with the assistance of technicians present at the plant site.

Power transmission

The electricity generated by the Baixo Iguacu hydropower facility is fed into Brazil’s national interconnection system Sistema Interligado Nacional (SIN), through a 60km-long and 230kV transmission connecting the Cascavel Oeste substation, which is owned by Copel.

A 38km-long 230kV transmission line has also been planned to connect the Baixo Iguaçu substation with the Realeza substation.

Contractors involved

Odebrecht Infraestrutura, a subsidiary of Construtora Norberto Odebrecht, in consortium with Alstom was awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the Baixo Iguacu hydroelectric power plant in January 2013.

Odebrecht Infraestrutura was the main construction contractor for the project, while Alstom supplied three vertical Kaplan turbines and generators, control command and protection systems, as well as the electromechanical and lifting equipment for the project under a $160m contract signed with Neoenergia in September 2012.

Alstom manufactured the electromechanical components for the plant at its Taubaté factory in São Paulo.