Belo Monte Dam

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Belo Monte Dam (`Beautiful Hill')
Where: Pará, Brazil
What: Hydroelectric Dam project in the Amazon rainforest- 3rd largest hydroelectric dam in
the world
When: Plans began in 1975 but were abandoned due to controversy. Project proposed in
1987 by Electrobras (Brazilian Power Company). The dam's definitive installation license
was the granted in June 2011, it is currently under construction- to be working by 2014
and fully completed in 2019.
Project Details
Two dams ­ Pimental Dam (233.1 Megawatt capacity) and Belo Monte Dam (11,000 Megawatt capacity). Both
house turbines and spillways. The Pimental Dam will block the Xingu, diverting up to 80% of the river's flow to
the main reservoir, while the spillway will release a minimum of 20% of its flow to the 60-mile Big Bend or Volta
Grande. The Belo Monte Dam will capture the water from the main reservoir, while its spillway will release this
water back into the lower Xingu River.
Two reservoirs ­ one in the Xingu riverbed, and the other on dry land,
668 km2 would be flooded, including 400 km2 of forest; in all, at least 1,522 km2 will be directly affected
One massive canal ­ 500 meters wide, and a series of dykes to transfer up to 80% of the Xingu's flow into an
artificial canal
Between 20,000­40,000 people to be displaced
Construction cost: US$18.5 billion (estimated)
The planned installed capacity of the dam complex would be 11,233 megawatts
Impacts
Social
+ Could provide power for 18 million homes
+ Would improve sanitation conditions
+ Job opportunities, especially in mining, industry, commercial agriculture and infrastructure development
(2500 indirect jobs created)
+Would encourage and provide infrastructure in the area, including to those communities affected (e.g.
those who live in wooden stilt houses in Altamira)
+ Quality of life is improving as Brazil develops and therefore there is a high demand for electricity which
needs to be met somehow
+Moves people from dry, overpopulated areas from the South towards the North
Human rights of the indigenous communities ignored
Large body of still water (reservoir) encourages breeding of mosquitos ­ malaria
Economic
+ Brazil is already largely dependent on HEP so it is natural progression
+Potential to sell more oil to stimulate socioeconomic development
Unlikely to lower electricity prices in Brazil because most will be used for industrial purposes
Highest bidder must spend $800 million to protect the environment
Expense of the dam initial cost, need to move tens of thousands of people, compensation and lose of
energy
Environmental
+19 gaspowered thermal plants would be needed to equal the energy output of the Belo Monte
+Would have the capacity to supply electricity to the whole of Para state
Could still have 2.5 times the emission of a fossilfuel plant after 20 yrs
Electricity will fuel the mining and metal processes in Para state which will be 'dirty energy'
Potentially devastating if the dam breaks to surrounding area
Breeding grounds for fish lost, as they cannot migrate to these spots turtle species too
Flooding of the rainforest will disrupt ecosystems (endangered animals e.g. whitecheeked spider
monkey), potentially destroy unknown medical plants and the vegetation left in the bottom of the reservoirs
will emit methane which is 25% more potent than Carbon Dioxide

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Sediment that is removed from the river at the reservoirs will increase the velocity of the river and hence
erosion further downstream…read more

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