Accelerating growth with cleaner power technology
In 2007, Brazil established a major infrastructure improvement program aimed at stimulating the country’s economic growth. Called the Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento (PAC), or Growth Acceleration Program, it included economic policies, investment plans and new developments focused on construction, sanitation, transportation, logistics, water and energy. Led by the Norte Energia consortium, the Belo Monte Francis Hydropower Plant—one of the Brazilian government’s main infrastructure projects—was born out of the country’s goal to secure a reliable power supply from a mix of cleaner and renewable energy sources. Located at the Xingu River in the state of Pará in Northern Brazil, the Belo Monte project also will create better conditions for approximately 4,500 families and their neighbors living in wooden stilt houses in the region of Altamira. In addition to an improved power supply, a working sanitation infrastructure will be developed.
More of a Good Thing
The Belo Monte project consists of two power plants: Belo Monte with 18 x 620 MW Francis turbine generator units and Pimental with 6 x 38.9 MW Bulb turbine generator units.
Under the contract with Norte Energia, GE supplies for Belo Monte power plant eight 620 MW Francis turbines and nine 679 MVA vertical generator units, hydro-mechanical equipment, gas insulated substations, switchyard, six power transformers and Bus Bars, including erection and commissioning. In addition, GE’s hydraulic design would be used by all turbines at the plant.
Francis turbines are the most widely used hydro turbines in the world and are capable of outputs of up to 1,000 MW and efficiencies of more than 95%. In addition, vertical Francis turbines cover a very large head range, from 30 m up to 800 m. Once complete, the Belo Monte hydropower plant will be the second largest hydropower plant in Brazil and have the third highest hydropower capacity in the world.
Hydropower already accounts for approximately 85% of Brazil’s total power production. In just the past 10 years, GE has supplied more than 100 hydropower turbines and generators to the Brazilian market, accounting for nearly 40% of Brazil’s installed hydropower capacity. Present in Brazil for more than 55 years, GE has played a significant role in the development of this hydroelectricity, including providing products and services for Itaipu, the second largest hydropower plant in the world; Tucuruí, the world’s fourth largest hydropower plant; as well as the Jirau and Santo Antonio’s hydropower plants.
When the Belo Monte hydropower plant goes into commercial operation in 2018, it will have an installed capacity of 11,233 MW, providing the equivalent of 10% of Brazil’s total energy consumption. Operating at full capacity, the plant also will provide carbon-free electricity for 35 million people.