An Irish Civil Engineering professional's perspective from Brazil

Posts tagged ‘future projects’

Brazil’s leap into better energy supply

New power plant, to be in place and operational before 2014

Nicknamed “The Marvelous City,” Rio de Janeiro is the gateway to Brazil. And soon over 7-million spectators will arrive for the highly anticipated 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. The world will watch as Rio becomes the first city to host the Olympic games in South America and only the second to ever host both events back to back. There is however growing concern that the Olympic torch will be the only thing illuminating the night sky. That’s because Rio has repeatedly fallen victim to some of the worst power failures in history. So the Brazilian government has launched an ambitious plan to remove the entire city from the nation’s aging power grid and transform Rio into a self-sufficient ‘power island.’ The plan includes re-linking over 160 km of power lines, building the largest nuclear generator in the country, and the lynchpin: the Simplício Hydroelectric Complex.

This is one the of largest construction sites in the world, spanning an incredible 24 km. Crews are racing to divert over 780-billion gallons of water from the Paraiba do Sul River through some of the world’s widest tunnels. Once operational, this hydroelectric facility will help to generate nearly 30% more power for Rio. But with January storms threatening to dump over a foot of rain on their progress, crews must prepare for the messy and dangerous road ahead.

The project is a joint venture between Odebrecht Energy (leader) and Andrade Gutierrez. The project, contracted by Eletrobras (Furnas Centrais Elétricas S.A.), encompasses the towns of Três Rios and Sapucaia (Rio de Janeiro), Além Paraíba and Chiador (Minas Gerais) and includes a concrete dam in Anta, and two energy houses separated by a hydraulic circuit formed by channels, dikes and tunnels. When finished the Complex will have a production capacity of 333.7 MW.

The decision to re-route the river (as opposed to creating a reservoir, by flooding upstream) was in the interest of minimizing the project’s social and environmental impact on the region.

According to Fernando Chein, Contract Director, the construction of the Anta dam with Rolled Compacted Concrete is a major advantage:

“The system presents advantages such as speed in finishing the project and in the reduction, by half, in the use of cement by cubic meter of concrete”.

Seven of the Widest Tunnels in the World
Countless waterfalls and rapids make the Paraiba do Sul one of the wildest rivers in Brazil. To accommodate its torrent, each of the 7 diversion tunnels on the Simplício Hydroelectric Project must measure over 50 m in circumference. But there isn’t a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) on the planet that large. So workers must rely on a far more dangerous method of tunneling — heavy-duty jumbo drills and dynamite.

 

Tunnel no.3 (6km long)

One of the Biggest Construction Sites in the World
The Simplício Hydroelectric Complex spans over 24 km, making it one of the biggest construction sites on Earth. Not only is this project larger than Manhattan Island, it’s also equipped with a city-like infrastructure complete with 5 medical centers, 4 data/voice towers, 6 cafeterias, 3 concrete plants, and a fleet of 70 cars and buses.

Everything in this project is on a grand scale

One of the Largest Earth-Moving Projects in the World
If a dam is constructed directly on the Paraiba do Sul River the reservoir it creates will flood the nearby town of Sapucaia. Rather than displace 130,000 people, engineers are diverting the river for a stretch of 24 km through 7 different mountains and 13 man-made channels. To pull off a job of this size workers must use over 600 different earth-moving vehicles. The contractors are utilising a an innovative construction method for the Civil works called hydroseeding, in order to stabilise the slopes.

Some of the Civil Engineering works in the Simplício complex

Longest Power Transmission Link Ever Built
Approximately 90% of Brazil’s power comes from hydroelectricity. And because most of the country’s water is located in the Amazon rainforest, an extensive power grid is needed to connect remote hydroelectric outposts with major coastal cities like Rio de Janeiro. The latest addition to this grid will extend an unprecedented 2,400 km, making it the longest power transmission link in the world.

3 Giant Turbines
The Francis turbine is the most widely used hydro turbine on the planet. Here at Simplício, 3 of them will be in use, each capable of generating 102 megawatts of power. But the real benefit to the Francis turbine is adaptability. The erratic flow of the Paraiba do Sul creates a major obstacle for this project because drastic changes in water pressure at a hydroelectric plant either hamper energy production or completely destroy the turbines. The Francis turbine however has a revolutionary design that accommodates heads ranging anywhere from 9 m to upwards of 30 m.

Most Powerful Hydroelectric Plant in the World
The Itaipu Dam is Brazil’s greatest source of energy and home to one of the biggest hydroelectric complexes in the world. It is located in the south of Brazil, near the Foz do Iguaçu waterfalls on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. In 2008 the plant generated a record 94.68-billion kilowatt-hours. That’s over 10-billion kilowatt-hours more than Three Gorges Dam! Here, maintenance is paramount since Itaipu supplies 20% of the energy consumed by Brazil and 90% of that consumed by Paraguay.

Itaipu dam (low flow)

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Recent offshore Oil and Gas developments in Brazil

Recently, there have been a few tell-tale signs that the Oil & Gas industry in Brazil, is not far from realising its potential.

Firstly,

Hermod completes Peregrino heavy lift.

Statoil has completed a heavy lift of two wellhead platforms on the Peregrino field offshore Brazil using the vessel Hermod. The development is the group’s largest offshore project outside the Norwegian continental shelf.

Hook-up and completion are under way. The company plans to begin 30 horizontal production and seven water injection wells later this year.

The field’s FPSO is scheduled to arrive for hook up and commissioning in the coming months. Maersk is constructing the vessel at the Keppel Shipyard in Singapore. The FPSO’s mooring systems are in place following an installation program by the offshore construction vessel Boa Deep earlier this year.

Peregrino is 85 km (53 mi) off the coast of Brazil in a water depth of up to 100 m (328 ft). First oil is anticipated in 2011 and will continue up to 2040, Statoil says.

Sevan Driller arrives in Brazil.

The Sevan Driller arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday, March 27, says Sevan Marine. The ultra deepwater drilling unit will undergo custom clearance and acceptance testing by Petrobras before beginning operations under a six-year contract.

Petrobras downgrades project portfolio for 2011-2014.

Petrobras has decreased its project portfolio investment for 2011-2014 from $148 billion to $139 billion.

The company’s board has approved $257 billion worth of projects for after 2014. According to the company, the investments aim to increase oil and natural gas production, taking advantage of success in the post- and pre-salt, and exploratory activities.

The E&P project portfolio includes construction of production platforms and drilling rigs, support vessels, and investments in transportation infrastructure.

Renewable Energy news

Lanxess Completes “Sugar Cane” Power Plant In Brazil.

Image via Wikipedia

Ecologically grown sugarcane in Brazil for production of enthanol

Specialty chemicals group Lanxess has completed a cogeneration plant to produce steam and power from biobased sources at its iron oxide facility in Porto Feliz, Sao Paulo state, Brazil. The plant runs on sugarcane bagasse.

Ethanol produced from the sugar in sugarcane, is also very popular in Brazil as an alternative fuel for vehicles. Most “petrol stations” here stock it alongside the other common fuels. Being cheaper than petrol and diesel, it is of course popular. However it does not perform as well as the more traditional options. Roughly lasting 75% of the distance that diesel would get you.

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Brazil Backs $4-Billion Peruvian Hydropower Project

A Brazilian-backed proposal to build a 2,000-megawatt hydroelectric plant in the Peruvian Amazon has gained momentum in recent weeks as the government of the Andean nation has thrown its weight behind the effort.

Let’s hope that this project is handled as carefully as it should be. The Amazon Basin is a unique resource, and it has endured enough damage through man’s actions. I am assured that projects in this region are now strictly planned and maintained to preserve the environment of the Amazon. This may be true for the majority of the Basin, which is in Brazil, however I sincerely hope that Peru will take a similar attitude when embarking on this project.

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Brazil is the world’s tenth largest energy consumer with much of its energy coming from renewable sources, particularly hydroelectricity and ethanol; non-renewable energy is mainly produced from oil and natural gas. A global power in agriculture and natural resources, Brazil experienced tremendous economic growth over the past three decades. It is expected to become a major oil producer and exporter, having recently made huge oil discoveries.

More news coming soon, on these (soon to be operational) Oil fields.

Brazil plans High-Speed Rail

As I previously mentioned on this blog, there are plans for a high-speed (circa 350kph) rail service to be in place for the upcoming World events in Brazil (2014 & 2016). Stretching for just over 500km, it will link the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, including stops at their respective international airports. Construction costs are estimated in the area of $19 billion (circa €14 billion, or circa R$34 billion).

high-speed-rail

There is no national rail network in Brazil today, however there was a limited rail route around some major port cities a century ago. This network is now used to a certain amount for freight transport. Now to start a modern rail network is no small feat, without even having a widespread existing (if outdated) national network. Especially considering that Brazil is such a huge country (fifth largest in the world), and has a population of circa 192 million people (also fifth largest in world).

I have to say, I admire the aspirations that Brazil is pursuing. This is an example of how Brazil is affirming itself on the international stage, through it’s forward-looking investment and a determined positive attitude. In my opinion, many countries could learn much from the approach Brazil demonstrates in this respect.

The proposed high-speed train line will be operating in a corridor which contains the most populous areas in the whole country. It is estimated that circa 18.75% of the Brazilian population reside in this future rail corridor. This area of Brazil also accounts for generating a third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The latest industry rumours suggest that it may not reach completion before Brazil hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup. More than likely it will now only be operational by the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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