Out of Curitiba, I take the bus to Iguazu, which is a long night on the road during which everything changes. The cold becomes warm, and the city becomes nature. The latter attracts many tourists, but besides this marvel of nature, there is a human marvel as well, Itaipu!
Water power – Iguazu
They are astonishing, I’ve never seen something as spectacular and beautiful created by nature as what I’m looking at at the moment. Coming closer the sounds becomes more impressive, and the feeling of water makes you feel like merging with the scenery.
On top of the mountains, far in the distance, like a millimetre square at the horizon, waves the light blue flag with its bright sun, a sign I’m at the border with Argentina. The marvels of nature are located on a triple border point between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
Power of water – Itaipu
On the other side of the village of Foz de Iguazu, there is another impressive demonstration of the power of water, the Itaipu dam. The project is unique, unique in its power generation, but as well in its bilingual cooperation. Not only is everything in the plant written in Spanish and in Portuguese, the entire complex and operation is divided between the two nations who constructed the project together. In the control room, precisely as much seats are occupied by Paraguayan employees as by Brazilian employees.
Still, I have to appoint to the fact that big hydro-electric plants are nowadays discussed regarding their sustainability, since they require huge environmental and human offers to be created. In this particular case, the original waterfalls on the location of the dam where destroyed, which not only impacted flora, but fauna as well. The creatures living in the upper waters were at a sudden mixed with the creatures living in the lower waters, resulting in loss of species of both sides. In other creations of huge hydro-electric plants, often local people are expelled as well; as what happened in the case of Berta Caceres in Honduras, on which I wrote last year.
Regarding its electricity production, the Itaipu dam broke any world record; in 2016 it produced more than 100 million MWhs, surpassing the energy production of the Three Gorges Dam plant. Eventually, the installed capacity is about 14GW
Eventually, the generated power is divided equally between both countries, which demonstrates the difference in size of both countries. Whereas even half of the produced hydro-electricity surpasses the energy demand of the entire country of Paraguay, in Brazil it is only sufficient to provide a part of the region of Sao Paulo. A huge part of the energy part of Paraguay is even exported directly to Brazil as well.
However, make a remark that only the city of Sao Paulo counts 20 million in habitants, and is the biggest city of South America; just to give you an idea how much energy is produced over here; however, that’s a story for the next blog.