Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any question related to the terms and acronyms used in this site, look up our glossary.
What is Santo Antônio Energia? What is its activity?
Santo Antônio Energia is the concession holder responsible for building the Santo Antônio hydroelectric plant located in the River Madeira, in Porto Velho, Rondônia. A number of companies from different sectors are part of Santo Antônio Energia:
• Andrade Gutierrez
• Fundo de Investimentos e Participações Amazônia Energia (FIP) - quota holder partners: Banco Santander, Banif and Fundo de Investimento do FI-FGTS)
• Eletrobras Furnas
The project is financed with resources from the National Economic and Social Development Bank - BNDES, some directly and other through transferred from the FI-FGTS - Fundo de Investimento do Fundo de Garantia por Tempo de Serviço and FNO - Fundo Constitucional de Financiamento do Norte.
What are the benefits of the construction of the Santo Antônio HEP?
As well as increasing the energy supply in Brazil, the construction and operations of the Santo Antônio HEP will generate many jobs directly and indirectly. At the height of the project in January 2011, 10,831 jobs are expected to be created. The presence of a hydroelectric complex on the River Madeira also provides an opportunity for the state of Rondônia to boost its economic and financial potential.
How much will be invested in the construction of the project?
The current calculation is that the total investment will come to R$ 15.1 billion.
How much will the energy generated by the Santo Antônio HEP cost?
When it is operating, the value estimated is R$ 78.87 per MWh.
Has the installation of the hydroelectric plant received the approval of the environmental bodies?
Three kinds of environmental licenses are required before the construction and operation of a hydroelectric plant can start: the Prior License (LP), the Installation License (LI) and the Operating License (LO).
The Santo Antonio HEP obtained the Prior License from Ibama as published in the Official federal Gazette on July 10, 2007. There are 33 conditions linked to this license which deal mainly with the transport of sediment, control of mercury (a mineral which is found on the river bed) and the guarantee that large fish will have a channel to swim up the river during the reproduction period.
In order to receive the installation license (granted by Ibama on August 18, 2008), the area to be flooded had to be reduced. This was made possible because the plant will function with a "run of river" system, thanks to the bulb turbine.
Who carried out the studies on the Santo Antônio HEP?
The studies on the use of the River Madeira were drawn up by the Eletrobras Furnas and Construtora Norberto Odebrecht (CNO) consortium after approval from Aneel in January 2001 and were approved in December 2002. However, they represent only a part from all the kinds of studies which were made for this project. The Basic Environmental Plan (PBA) brings together most of the actions proposed for the problems presented by the studies. The following companies participated in creating this document:
• Arcadis Tetraplan;
• Centro Mineiro de Estudos Epidemiológicos e Ambientais Ltda. - Cemea;
• ERM Brasil Ltda;
• Golder Associates Brasil Consultoria e Projetos Ltda;
• Interativa Consultoria e Projetos Ambientais Ltda.;
• JGP Consultoria Ltda.;
• Northwest Hydraulic Consultants - NHC;
• PCE Engenharia Ltda.;
• Práxis Projetos e Consultoria Ltda;
• 27 Multimídia Ltda;
• UNIR (Universidade Federal de Rondônia);
•Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa da Amazônia (Inpa);
•Serviço Geológico do Brasil (CPRM);
•Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi (MPEG);
•Instituto de Pesquisas em Patologias Tropicais (Ipepatro);
How does a hydroelectric plant work?
When the river water passes through the turbines, it makes the blades turn and triggers the generator. The basic process of electricity generation is carried out inside by rotating a series of magnets within metallic spirals which move the electrons, thereby producing an electrical current.
After it passes through the turbines, the water goes through an escape channel and returns to the river. The faster the water passes through the turbine, more electrons are moved and more energy is created. Constructing a dam creates a difference in levels on the river which increases the speed of the water passing through the turbine.
Does every plant need to have a dam? Will dams be built on the River Madeira plants?
Not all hydroelectric plants need dams. Reservoirs in the form of locks through which boats can be raised or lowered to one level of the river from another can be used. The federal government´s project to expand the River Madeira foresees keeping the river navigable to distribute production between Brazil and Bolivia and, for this reason, dams will be created to even out the difference in the water levels. However, the viability of the construction of the dams is still been discussed by the federal government.
Will the flooded area around the Santo Antônio HEP cause much impact?
The differential of the River Madeira project lies in the proportion of the reservoir in relation to the plant’s energy generation. The area to be flooded is relatively small compared with other hydroelectric plants. For the sake of comparison, with an installed capacity of 3,150.4 MW, the Santo Antônio HEP will have an artificial lake measuring 271 km², of which 164 km² corresponds to the natural channel of the river during the period of flooding. This gives a ratio of the area of the reservoir per plant power of 0.09 km²/MW. This compares with the Tucuruí HEP which has a current generation capacity of 8,000 MW and a lake measuring 2,414 km², or a ratio of 0.30 km²/MW. This makes the Santo Antônio HEP more efficient than the Tucuruí plant.
What kind of technology will use to generate energy at the HEP?
The Santo Antônio HEP operates with the "run of river" type which means it does not need a large reservoir and uses bulb-type turbines to produce energy. These turbines take great advantage of the water potential in the Amazon through the low fall and high flow. The bulb-type generator is made of a horizontal hydraulic turbine and a generator which is also horizontal. It is coated by a metal sealed structure shaped like a bulb, hence the name, which is totally immersed in the hydraulic flow. To take advantage of the axial flow, i.e., parallel to the axial, the hydraulic passages of the bulb units are simpler than the common ones.
Which communities will be affected by the Plant?
The communities affected are divided into two groups. One group is located upstream in the region above the plant on the river bank, and will be directly affected by the reservoir. The other group is downstream, below the plant and could be affected indirectly.
The upstream group includes the communities of the Engenho Velho (which is currently a collective resettlement), São Domingos, Trata Sério, Cachoeira dos Macacos, Ilha Grande, Jatuarana, Vila Amazonas, Porto Seguro, Padre Eterno, Teotônio, Betel, Morrinhos, Joana D'Arc I, II and III, Zeca Gordo and Jacy.