Droughts causing concern for Brazilian hydroelectric power producers

Brazil Map

An extended drought has Brazilian officials worried about the country's ability to meet consumer energy demand with hydroelectric resources, HydroWorld.com has learned.

Sources report that Brazil's hot, dry summer is depriving hydropower plants of water -- straining the available power supply and causing fear that the country will face its first widespread energy rationing since 2001.

Brazil's national electrical system operator, ONS, said reservoirs in the northeast are at 31.61% capacity, while those in the north region are at 41.24%.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian Association of Independent Power Producers, Alpine, said reservoirs for hydroelectric plants in the southeast and midwest are at 28.9% -- just 0.8% above its risk aversion curve which quantifies the minimum levels required to meet demand at full load.

Already, state news outlet Agencia Brasil has reported that all of Brazil's backup thermoelectric generators are operating to meet the expected shortfall, though Energy Minister Edison Lobao said "there is no chance of rationing, no chance of shortages."

Given that hydroelectric power accounts for more than 65% of the country's power supply, Brazil's power sector monitoring committee, CMSE, will meet tomorrow to discuss the issue.

The news comes just days after Brazil's Itaipu Binacional announced it had set a new record for generation in 2012.

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