Itaipu beats productivity record for the third consecutive year

  • Energy

For the third consecutive year, Itaipu Binacional shall break its own productivity record. The hydroelectric plant is expected to close 2021 with 1.098 megawatt produced for each cubic meter of water flown per second (MW avg/m³/s), the highest productivity level in its 37 years of operation. The value is higher than the 2020 (1,087 MW avg/m³/s) and 2019 marks (1.079 MW avg/m³/s). The month with the highest productivity was July, with 1.1221 MW avg/m³/s.

“This was another dry year [in Brazil], so producing more with less water was crucial. The excellence of the binational team and the business-tailored technology are the best tools to achieve our goals”, stated the executive technical director of Itaipu, Celso Torino. “Itaipu is operating at maximum efficiency, even in a year of historic drought”,

highlighted the Brazilian general director of Itaipu, General João Francisco Ferreira.

The relationship between productivity and droughts is like fuel consumption in a car. When the intention is to save fuel, it is necessary to drive at an ideal RPM, neither too high nor too low. The same happens in the generating unit: when it is at the best operating point, energy production will be such that water consumption will be as low as possible. And this is the goal in times of low affluence: to do more with less, as highlighted by the director.

High productivity was essential in a critical hydrological year like 2021. The average inflow (the amount of water that reaches the reservoir and is used for energy production) was 6,956 m³/s, the worst since 1983, corresponding to 61% of the average observed in the period.

With water scarcity, power generation was also below average, with production expected to reach 66.5 million MWh, or 74% of the annual average for the previous 25 years. Even so, this energy is more than one day of the world’s electricity consumption and enough to supply Brazil for a month and twelve days, or Paraguay for almost four years.

Productivity and production: understand the difference

Productivity is an index calculated by the relationship between the amount of energy generated and the usable discharge (the volume of water that passes through the generating units, measured in cubic meters per second). It is different from production, which means the absolute amount of energy generated in a given time.

Union of factors

According to Torino, the productivity record is due to a series of factors, such as the efficient management of resources, the Brazilian and Paraguayan teams’ commitment, and the board’s guidelines. “This all resulted in the transformation of each drop of water that entered the reservoir into energy”, he said.

The director highlights the combined actions of the Engineering, Maintenance, and Construction teams, which ensure the plant’s performance on generation and transmission, the efficient management of abnormalities and availability of the generating units, and dam safety, respectively.

“In addition, the coordinated actions of the Operation team in the hydrological analysis, energy programming, pre- and post-operation stages, and the supervision and real-time control of equipment associated with energy production are also essential”, he concluded.

For the Technical Board, a series of factors contributed to the plant’s good performance and, consequently, the achievement of productivity results. Among them, the partnership with the Itaipu Technological Park (PTI); the use of software from the Electric Energy Research Center (Cepel); and the coordination with the Brazil’s national grid operator (ONS) and the Paraguay Electricity Administration (ANDE). The studies carried out by the groups of the Mixed Operation Commission, involving Eletrobras, Ande, Furnas, and Itaipu Binacional, and the various areas of Itaipu that provide support to the Technical Board, are also credited.