In 1950, Brazil's capacity to produce electrical power was only 1.9 Kilowatts, in 2002 Brasil generated 339.1 BILLION Kilowatt-hours.
Brasil is the 3rd largest producer and consumer of electricity in the western hemisphere. (Behind the USA and Canada) In 2002, 83% of its power production was hydropower, 10% thermal (Oil, natural gas, and coal), 4% renewable and 3% nuclear. It is being forecast that Brasil will produce 36% South America’s electricity needs by 2013.
Brazilian side Iguacu falls
In 2008, Brasil had 706 hydroelectric power plants in operation. The largest is the Itapúa dam which produces over 94+ billon kilowatts of power annually and is considered the largest dam of it kind in the world. This dam on the Parana river and just up stream from the world famous Iguacu falls is jointly owned and operated with Paraguay. The dam was begun in 1975 and became fully operational in 1982
Argentina side Iguacu falls
The transmission wires carry the electricity 1000s of miles loosing nearly 15% of the power before reaching Sao Paulo and Rio.
This power generation is just one of the dichotomies in Brasil. This country, rich in natural recourses and knowledge of power generation technology, technology now being exported throughout the world (As we speak Brasil is providing China with the technology for a super, super dam) is still unable to bring a stable power supply to its smaller cities. There are areas in the Amazon region that just received electrical power in the past 5 years. (Amid much controversy a damn is being built in the eco-sensitive region)
In Friburgo, the fronts and sides of buildings are still wired with old and messy electrical wires. Some are still pirated to provide the older buildings with electricity. This doesn’t happen as often as even 10 years ago when if you wanted electricity or telephone you just ran a wire from your nearest neighbor’s connection – but it does still happen. Sometimes when I am paying the bill for the house, and it is over R$300.00 with no heat or air-conditioning, no hot water tank, and only two people living in our house, sometimes I wonder if someone hasn’t hooked their house up to ours….