GE and Grid Solutions jointly get a contract to upgrade the Itaipu hydropower plant in Brazil

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The Hydro and Grid Solutions businesses of GE Renewable Energy have signed a contract to upgrade the Itaipu hydropower plant in Brazil, the world’s second-largest. The power plant, which has a capacity of 14 GW and is located on the Paraná River between Brazil and Paraguay, will be upgraded by a consortium led by GE Hydro Solutions.

The project, which is regarded as the hydropower plant’s largest technological upgrade since its inception nearly 40 years ago, is expected to take 14 years and is primarily aimed at updating Itaipu’s technology. The upgrade includes all 20 power generating units’ equipment and systems, as well as improvements to the hydropower plant’s measurement, protection, control, regulation, and monitoring systems. Itaipu Binacional covers an average of 8.4 percent of Brazilian electricity consumption and 85.6 percent of Paraguayan electricity consumption.

“It is an honor and an obligation for us to participate in this largest technological upgrade project of Itaipu since its commissioning. Because of its relevance in providing clean energy to the people of Paraguay and Brazil, Itaipu is key to avoiding future energy crises and ensuring affordable energy for generations to come. Likewise, we look forward to working with GE Grid Solutions to optimize the plant’s operations further enabling Itaipu Binacional to make the most of its assets and resources and meet the demand for clean energy in both countries,”

Pascal Radue, CEO and President of GE Renewable Energy Hydro Solutions, said.

The project’s implementation is expected to take 14 years and is supported by the Paraguayan partner companies CIE and Tecnoedil (responsible for the assembly and supply of general materials, respectively). GE’s general scope of supply includes the supply of medium voltage cubicles, energy management systems, automation technology, as well as the delivery of protection, control, and supervision systems for the generating units, GIS substation, and existing 500 kV transmission lines, as well as two new compact GIS substations to increase the reliability of the plant’s electrical auxiliary services.

Itaipu’s executive technical director, David Krug, points out that the upgrade of the plant is the result of extensive planning that began in the early 2000s and went through several phases. According to Krug, the investment is necessary because many assets are still analog or technologically outdated and have been in operation for almost 40 years. In some cases, the manufacturer no longer exists, making it impossible to replace parts. “If we upgrade the plant technologically, the problem of spare parts is eliminated“, he said, adding, “the big advantage is this – we are upgrading the plant to a new state of the art facility and, in doing so, improving the efficiency of the operation and maintenance processes.”

Itaipu Binacional has produced the most energy in history: more than 2.8 billion Gigawatt-hours since 1984. Furthermore, with 14 GW of installed capacity, the plant is the world’s second largest hydropower plant. Each of the 20 generating units is capable of powering a city of 1.8 million people. The dam has a height of nearly 200 meters and a length of eight kilometres.

GE’s participation in a project of this magnitude demonstrates the company’s commitment to providing technologies and expertise that contribute to the power grid’s resilience, efficiency, and reliability. GE, in collaboration with its customers, is contributing to the energy transition by providing solutions not only for generation but also for transmission and distribution of energy around the world.

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