In the 1970s Brazil and Paraguay set up a new entity to build a huge dam, then run the hydroelectricity plant it holds. The partnership is celebrated in the name – Itaipu Binacional, seen here in the first vehicle park visitors go to on their tour.
The most spectacular part is the overflow, which opens up when the huge artificial lake is too high. Giant doors that weigh as much as a jumbo jet are opened to let the water run down an enormous concrete channel into the river below.
The whitish pipes to the right are 10 metre diameter channels for the water to drop 100 metres to huge turbines beneath the level of the river. Paraguay gets 90% of its electricity from this generator, Brazil 30%.
There are three sections to the dam:
1. An earth and rock piece, seen here from inside the coach as we drove down from the top of this section to river level below.
2. The concrete working section with the huge tubes, turbines, switching matrixes and high voltage feeder cables to nearby pylons.
3. The overflow section, also concrete, which deals with any over-high level in the dam.
I found it pretty amazing, in the ambition of its first conception, to the construction and now the invaluable contribution to green energy for the region.
31 October, 2011