Auction underscores Amazon hydropower push
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil’s government this month auctioned a concession for what would be the second largest hydroelectric dam ever built in the Amazon region, drawing criticism that it recklessly ignored its own environmental experts’ recommendation against the project.
The concession auctioned by the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is for the planned US$5.4 billion, 3,150-megawatt Santo Antônio dam. Slated for the Madeira River in western Rondônia state, the hydropower station would be the biggest erected in the Amazon since the 4,000-megawatt Tucuruí dam was started up on the Tocantins River in 1984.
It comes amid a concerted push by the Lula administration to boost hydroelectric capacity to help keep pace with energy demand that, according to the Mines and Energy Ministry’s energy-planning agency, is growing at nearly 5% a year. That push relies largely on resuming efforts to dam Amazon rivers, an approach that had stalled in recent years partly due to environmental concerns.