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7 Ancient Wonders of the World
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7 Modern Wonders of the World

Itaipu Dam-Paraná River
The concept behind Itaipu Power Plant is the result of heavy negotiations between the two countries during the 1960s
Brazil, Paraguay, South America
Modern Wonders of the World
Dated Started: 1/1970
Date Finished: 5/05/1984
Length: 7700 m
Height: 196 m
 
7 Modern Wonders of the World
Itaipu Dam [1]

 

Itaipu is a hydroelectric dam on the Paraná River located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay.

The name "Itaipu" was taken from an isle that existed near the construction site. In the Guarani language, Itaipu means "the sound of a stone". The American composer Philip Glass has also written a symphonic cantata named Itaipu in honour of the structure.

Itaipu Binacional is a company that runs the largest operational hydroelectric power plant in the world. It is second only to the Three Gorges Dam in generating capacity. It is a binational undertaking run by Brazil and Paraguay at the Paraná River on the border section between the two countries, 15 km north of the Friendship Bridge. The project ranges from Foz do Iguaçu, in Brazil, and Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, in the south to Guaíra and Salto del Guaíra in the north. The installed generation capacity of the plant is 14 GW, with 20 generating units of 700 MW each. In the year 2008, it achieved its generating record of 94.68 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), which supplied 90% of the energy consumed by Paraguay or 19% of that consumed by Brazil

Negotiations between Brazil and Paraguay
The concept behind Itaipu Power Plant is the result of heavy negotiations between the two countries during the 1960s. The "Ata do Iguaçu" (Iguaçu Act) was signed on July 22, 1966, by the Brazilian and Paraguayan Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Juracy Magalhães and Sapena Pastor, respectively. This was a joint declaration of the mutual interest in studying the exploitation of the hydric resources that the two countries shared in the section of the Paraná River starting from and including the Salto de Sete Quedas to the Iguaçu River's watershed. The Treaty that gave origin to the power plant was signed in 1973.


Construction starts
In 1970, the consortium formed by the companies IECO (from the United States of America) and ELC Electroconsult S.p.A. (from Italy) won the international competition for the realization of the viability studies and for the elaboration of the construction project. Work began in February 1971. On April 26, 1973, Brazil and Paraguay signed the Itaipu Treaty, the legal instrument for the hydroelectric exploitation of the Paraná River by the two countries. On May 17, 1974, the Itaipu Binacional entity was created to administer the plant's construction. The works began in January of the following year.


Paraná River rerouted
On October 14, 1978, the Paraná River had its route changed, which allowed a section of the riverbed to dry so the dam could be built there.


Agreement by Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina
An important diplomatic settlement was reached with the signing of the Acordo Tripartite by Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, on October 19, 1979. This agreement established the allowed river levels and how much they could change as a result of the various hydroelectrical undertakings in the watershed that was shared by the three countries. At that time, the three countries were ruled by military dictatorships. Argentina was concerned that, in the event of a conflict, Brazil could open the floodgates, raising the water level in de la Plata River and consequently flood the capital city of Buenos Aires.


Formation of the lake
The plant's reservoir began its formation on October 13, 1982, when the dam works were completed and the side canal's gates were closed. Throughout this period, water rose 100 meters (330 ft) and reached the gates of the spillway at 10:00 AM on October 27 due to the heavy rains and flooding that took place at the time.

On May 5, 1984, the first generation unit started running in Itaipu. The first 18 units were installed at the rate of two to three a year; the last two of these started running in the year 1991.

The last two of the 20 units started operations in September 2006 and in March 2007, thus raising the installed capacity to 14,000 MW and completing the power plant. This increase in capacity will allow for 18 generation units to remain running all of the time while two stay down for maintenance. Due to a clause in the treaty signed between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, the maximum number of generating units allowed to operate simultaneously can not exceed 18 (see the agreement section for more information).

The rated nominal power of each generating unit (turbine and generator) is 700 MW. However, because the head (difference between reservoir level and the river level at the foot of the dam) that actually occurs is higher than the design head, the power available exceeds 750 MW half of the time.

Each turbine generates around 700 megawatts; for comparison, all the water from the Iguaçu Falls would have capacity to feed only two generators.


Power transmission
Of the currently 18 generator units installed, 9 of them generate in 50 Hz, the grid frequency of Paraguay and 9 generate in 60 Hz, the Brazilian grid frequency. There's also a power converter on the Brazilian side that allows the transformation of 50 Hz into 60 Hz energy that is not used in Paraguay.


"Wonder of the Modern World"
In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers elected the Itaipu Dam as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. In 1995, the American magazine Popular Mechanics published the results.

 

 WatchMojo
May 04, 2007

The World Wonders .Com-visit 1,000 world wonders at www.theworldwonders.com

 

 
 
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References
 
1. Flickr-Itaipu Dam -Creative Commons Attribution License-retrieved 7/20/2009
2. Wikipedia-Itaipu Dam-retrieved 7/20/2009 
 
 
 Wikipedia  text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

 

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