Itaipu starts largest technological update of the binational plant

  • Energy

The plan includes the replacement of the control and protection systems of the 20 generating units. It will take 14 years of work and US$ 649 million in investment.

Itaipu Binacional authorized, on April 29, during a ceremony in the hall of the hydroelectric power plant’s Production Building, the start of the work for the most comprehensive generating unit technological update plan since the complex came into operation 38 years ago. The contract provides for 14 years of services and US$ 649 million in investments.

Paraguayan and Brazilian directors signed the order to start the technological update. Photo: Rubens Fraulini/Itaipu Binacional
Paraguayan and Brazilian directors sign the order to start the technological update. Photo: Rubens Fraulini/Itaipu Binacional

The update will be carried out by the Itaipu Modernization Consortium (CMI), winner of the binational bidding, formed by Brazilian and Paraguayan companies.

The technological update plan includes the replacement of the control and protection systems of Itaipu’s 20 generating units, gas-insulated substation, plant auxiliary services, spillway and dam gates, and all power and control wiring of these devices, in addition to the plant’s metering and billing system.

The contract also provides for the preparation of the executive project, supply of all equipment and systems, electromechanical disassembly and assembly services, training, and the execution of works that may be necessary.

Because they have a longer life cycle, the plant’s large electromechanical equipment, such as turbines and generators, will not be replaced.

Schedule

For the first four years of the contract, the reference schedule provides for the executive planning of the modernization project, the preparation of the executive project, and the updating of the plant’s centralized control.

The systems of the 20 generating units must be updated in the following ten years, with two units completely updated each year. The detailed schedule, however, will be prepared by the contracted consortium during the executive planning phase.

Solemnity

The order to start works, with a deadline of May 23, was signed by the general directors of Itaipu, Anatalicio Risden Junior (Brazil) and Manuel María Cáceres Cardozo (Paraguay), and by the general coordinators of the Technological Update Plan Management Committee, Renata de Biasi Ribeiro Tufaile and Federico Zacarias González.

The ceremony was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Ambassador Carlos França; the Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque; the Minister of the Government Secretariat, Célio Faria Júnior; Ambassador Fernando Simas Magalhães; the President of Eletrobras, Rodrigo Limp; Cida Borghetti and José Carlos Aleluia – all members of the Board of Directors of the binational.

Also present were the directors of the Paraguayan side; the president of the Brasilian Participations in Nuclear and Binational Energy Company (ENBPar), Ney Zanella dos Santos; the general director of the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (Aneel), André Pepitone; Itaipu directors from both margins; and the CEO of the Hydro division of GE Renewable Energy for Latin America, Cláudio Trejger. The company is part of the binational consortium.

Manuel María Cáceres Cardozo pointed out that the technological update is one of the most significant achievements in the company’s history after the construction of the hydroelectric power plant in the 1970s and 1980s. “The update will allow the binational plant to maintain high levels of productivity and stay at the forefront of renewable energy production,” he said.

Minister Carlos França recalled that on May 1 he completed a year as a member of the Board of Directors of Itaipu and that, in this period, he had the opportunity to follow part of the effort of the plant’s technical staff for the implementation of the update plan. According to him, this modernization brings more safety and efficiency to the energy production process and directly benefits consumers in both countries.

“It was a long walk that allowed us to reach this moment,” said the minister. “Itaipu today takes a new step on the technological front line to remain a world reference in yield, productivity and, above all, as a crucial element for the promotion of sustainable development and friendship between Brazil and Paraguay,” he added.

Itaipu’s chief technical officer, David Krug, mentioned that the modernization of the plant is the result of extensive planning, which began in the early 2000s and went through several phases. According to him, the investment is necessary because a great part of the equipment is still analogic or technologically outdated, having operated for almost 40 years. In some cases, the manufacturer no longer exists, making it impossible to replace parts.

“When we upgrade the plant, we eliminate this issue of spare parts,” he said. “The big gain is this: we bring the plant to a new situation regarding technology and efficiency of the operation and maintenance processes.”

For Cláudio Trejger, “this technological update, using what is cutting edge in the market, will provide greater security and contribute to ensure the continuity of high operational availability, a mark of the plant worldwide, in addition to an even more efficient maintenance”.

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