A team of Accredited Assessors recently visited Brazil and Paraguay to conduct the first Protocol assessment of the 14,000 MW Itaipu plant.
As part of IHA’s Sustainability Partnership with Itaipu Binacional, IHA provided a team of four accredited assessors to conduct the assessment. In August this year, they visited Brazil and Paraguay, and held a wide range of interviews amongst project stakeholders amongst communities in the region and within the company. They held over 100 interviews with communities, indigenous people, governmental agencies, local government, NGOs, experts, and company officials. They are now reviewing countless documents - in English, Portuguese, and Spanish!
The assessment is the most complex of all Protocol assessments carried out to date, reflecting the wide range and scale of Itaipu’s environmental and social programmes, the large scale of the plant, and its dual nationality. It is the culmination of over two years of preparation by Itaipu Binacional, which included training by Accredited Assessors firstly for the Brazilian part of the company and then the Paraguayan part.
The name of ‘Itaipu’ means ‘the stone that sings’ in the language of the Guaraní people, who are the indigenous people of the region. Located on the Paraná River, Itaipu is a joint venture belonging to both Brazil and Paraguay, governed by a Treaty signed in 1973. The Paraná is among the largest rivers in the world by length and by discharge, and forms the borders between Brazil and Paraguay and then between Argentina and Paraguay before joining the Paraguay River to form the La Plata River.
Construction of the plant began in the 1970s, and it began operation in 1984. The main dam is 612 m long, and the reservoir is 1350 km2 in area.
In most years, Itaipu has generated more energy than any other power plant in the world - the record was 98.6 TWh, reached in 2013. It supplies almost 80% of Paraguay’s electricity and 15% of Brazil’s. Since the beginning of operations, Itaipu has generated approximately 2,300 TWh, which would be sufficient to supply a country like the United Kingdom for more than six years.
The assessors are currently preparing their draft report, carefully considering the performance of Itaipu in relation to the Protocol’s criteria, across all 19 topics of the Operation tool.