Brazil has included four hydropower plants among the projects that will receive support as part of the country’s investment partnerships program, called “Programa de Parcerias de Investimentos” or PPI.
According to BNamericas, the government’s support will come in the form of environmental licensing studies for the 650-MW Bem Querer, 140-MW Castanheira, 118-MW Telemaco Borba and 430-MW Tabajara plants, fulfilling President Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign promise to speed up the environmental licensing processes for large hydro plants.
Bem Querer, located in the Amazonas river in Roraima state, is considered critical to Brazil’s energy security. Roraima is the only state not yet connected to the country’s main power grid (SIN). Bem Querer will have a transmission line connecting to SIN and the government sees it as a necessary plant to reduce the region’s dependence on energy imports from crisis-ridden Venezuela and diesel-fired thermal power plants.
Being located in Brazil’s most environmentally sensitive area, the Amazon rainforest, Bem Querer is a potential target for environmental groups. An analysis of the project by the upper house in 2007 showed it could have a negative impact on areas occupied by indigenous people.
Also located in the Amazon region is the Tabajara plant, in Rodonia state. The project on the Jiparana River could impact cities, conservation areas, indigenous lands and people, including communities living on the riverside and fishermen. The federal prosecutor’s office (MPF) has estimated that the plant would affect 28 indigenous communities with more than 72,000 people.
The other two projects are much less controversial due to their locations.
The Castanheira plant on the Atrinos River in Mato Grosso state is not close to any indigenous lands and the construction works are slated to advance together with environmental programs to preserve and reduce impacts on fauna, flora, fish and water quality. It will also come with social programs to mitigate the impact on the population located in the municipalities that will see their lands flooded.
The Telemaco Borba plant on the Tibagi River in Parana state is located far from environmentally sensitive areas and small-scale mining in the area is the only activity that could be negatively impacted.