The targets in Brazil to build a dam. They

The design and
construction of project Itaipu Dam has a huge impact on the economy of Brazil
and Paraguay and it also helps to reduce the tension between the two countries.
Itaipu Dam is the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world with its
length of 7,919 meters and a height of 196 meters. It is located on the border
between Paraguay and Brazil, from Foz do Iguaçu and Ciudad del Este to Guaíra
and Salto del Guairá. The power plant uses the Paraná River as its source for
producing energy which is one of the world’s biggest river with the length of 4,880
km. The Dam was named after an island which was near the construction site. It
means “the sounding stone” in Guarani language. The power plant has an
installed generation capacity of 14GW and 20 generating units with the capacity
of 700-750 MW. Most of this energy is consumed by Brazil and the dam can supply
almost the 87% of the electricity which is needed in Paraguay. In 2016, the
power plant set a new world record of 103,098,366 megawatt hours. The American
Society of Civil Engineers selected Itaipu Dam as One of the Seven Wonders of
the Modern World in 1994.

Brazil’s
population was growing very fast in the 1960s and the government understood
that if they do not search for more energy sources and cannot provide enough
energy, they will face a huge problem. It was a logical idea to use the
existent water resources in the country. When the engineers wanted to find these
water resources they examined possible targets in Brazil to build a dam. They
realised that the best place would be on the Paraná River. However, it was
located on the border with Paraguay, and it had never been defined which
country the river belongs to. After the war in the 1800s between Paraguay and
Brazil, in which Paraguay lost half of its territory, officials from the two
countries started to make the negotiations faster to create an arrangement.
There was another problem coming up in the late 1900s. Paraná River flows
through Argentina too. The Argentinians felt that by creating the agreement
between Paraguay and Brazil about the Itaipu Dam, they will have restricted
access to Paraná River. Therefore in 1979, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay
signed the Acordo Tripartite, in which they established the level of the river.

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The plan of
building the Dam was signed on July 22, 1966 by Juracy Magalhães (Brazilian
minister) and Raúl Sapena Pastor (Paraguayan minister). It was a big step in
the process of negotiations between the two countries. By signing the “Ata
do Iguaçu”, they both showed interest in using the hydro resources that
were common because of the Paraná River. A partnership was formed between the
IECO and ELC Electroconsult S.p.A companies, and after they won together an
international competition, the design studies and the proposal for construction
could begin in 1971. The Itaipu Treaty was signed on April 26, 1973 between
Paraguay and Brazil which was the official statement of the usage of the Paraná
River as an energy resource. The Treaty included basic arrangements between the
two countries, such as limiting the number of operating units up to 18. It also
stated that if Paraguay has any remaining electricity that is not used, it has
to sell it to Brazil for a certain price (124 million dollar per year) until
2023. Finally, the construction began in January, 1975.

In 1978, the
river was rerouted, a new way was built with the length of 2 km, width of 150
meters, and the depth of 90 meters. This way the riverbed could dry so that the
construction workers were able to build a strong, stable dam on it. On October
13, 1982, a reservoir started to be formed at the Dam. Due to heavy rains and
floods the reservoir was slowly filled with water, the level reached 100
meters, and it created a lake. The first two generation units were installed
and started running in 1984.

By 2007, a
capacity expansion was completed in Itaipu Dam. The installed capacity was
raised to 14 GW and 20 electric generation units were ready to operate. Only 18
can work at the same time because of the contents of the Itaipu Treaty, the
other two are shut down because they are under maintenance. A generating unit
consists of a turbine and a generator. The rated nominal power of these units
are between 700 and 750 MW. For Paraguay, 10 out of the 20 generating units
generate at 50 Hz, while the other 10 generate at 60 Hz for Brazil.

A huge storm and
heavy rain caused a blackout in both countries in 2009. On November 10, at
22:15 a key high-voltage transmission line was cut and caused a power outage for
about 4 hours. It was the first time when the Itaipu Dam was shut down and lost
its entire power. 18 states out of 26 were affected by the blackout in Brazil
and all of the territory of Paraguay was suffering from the causes of the power
outage. There were states in Brazil which were partially affected by the
shortage, for example Santa Catarin, Rio Grande do Norte and Rio Grande do Sul,
but there were states which were affected entirely, such as São Paulo, Rio de
Janeiro, Mato Grosso do Sul and Espírito Santo. Hundreds of accidents and
transportation failures were reported during these hours.

In 2009, the two
countries renewed the Treaty after the request from Paraguay. Brazil agreed to
pay three times more for the electricity than it paid before and it allowed
Paraguay to ignore the Brazilian electricity monopoly. At present, Itaipu Dam it
supplies 28 percent of Brazil’s south, southeast, and central-west regions’ electric
energy. As Itaipu Binacional, the operator of Itaipu Dam states, “when it
celebrated 20 years in operation, the plant had already generated enough
electricity to supply the world for 36 days.”