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Electricity generation in Brazil

Nuclear power

Brazil has two nuclear power plants, the 630-megawatt (MW) Angra-1 and the 1,350-MW Angra-2. State-owned Eletronuclear, a subsidiary of Electrobras, operates both plants. A third, 1,350-MW plant, Angra-3, remains partially constructed.

Energy consumption

Brazil is the 10th largest energy consumer in the world and the third largest in the Western Hemisphere, behind the United States and Canada. Total primary energy consumption in Brazil has increased significantly in recent years. In addition, Brazil has made great strides in increasing its total energy production, particularly oil, over the past decade. Increasing domestic oil production has been a long-term goal of the Brazilian government.

  • The largest share of Brazil’s total energy consumption comes from oil (48 percent, including ethanol),
  • followed by hydroelectricity (35 percent)
  • and natural gas (7 percent).
  • Nuclear power comes up to 1% of energy consumption


Electricty generation

Brazil had 90.7 gigawatts of installed generating capacity in 2005, with the single largest share being hydroelectricity. In 2005, the country generated 396.4 billion kilowatthours (Bkwh) of electric power, while consuming 368.5 Bkwh. The largest source of electricity generation is hydropower (84 percent), with smaller amounts from conventional thermal, nuclear, and other renewable sources.

Developments in the nuclear sector

2010, Jan: Approval coming for new Brazilian reactors

"Brazil's new minister of mines and energy, Edison Lobao, has stated that the government plans to give approval by the end of 2011 for the construction of four new nuclear power plants in the country.

Edison Lobao (Francisco Stuckert)
Edison Lobao (Francisco Stuckert)
Speaking to journalists, Lobao – who was previously minister of mines and energy between January 2008 and March 2010 under the government of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - said that approval for the new plants was required from the National Energy Policy Council (CNPE). He said: "We will hold a meeting of CNPE to deal with it. The sites are located. We hope to move forward with these projects."

However, he said that the generating capacity of the new plants had not yet been determined and therefore there are no estimates on how much investment will be necessary for construction of the projects.

While the exact location of the new plants has not been decided, Lobao said that two plants should be built in northeast Brazil and the other two in the southeast of the country.

In 2007, a National Energy Plan to 2030 produced by EPE was adopted by the Brazilian government, which said that 6000 MWe of nuclear capacity will be needed by that date. The plan stipulated that new sites large enough to host six 1000 MWe reactors each should be chosen in the northeast and southeast of the country. EPE said the following states would be part of the preliminary survey: Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Goias and Mato Grosso do Sul.

Ministers have previously said an area between Recife and Salvador (a 650 kilometre stretch of coast in the northeast that spans the states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Alagoas and Sergipe) was under consideration and that the first reactor could come online in 2019. Eletronuclear set up an office in Recife in August 2009 after those states expressed an interest in hosting a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear utility Eletronuclear and the Empresa de Pesquita Energética (Energy Research Company, EPE), part of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, signed an agreement in August 2010 to cooperate to develop preliminary studies for selection of future nuclear sites.

Eletronuclear earlier projected the completion of the first two northeast reactors in 2019 and 2021, and the southeast ones, near the existing Angra plant, in 2023 and 2025.

There are currently two nuclear power reactors in operation in Brazil at the Angra site with a combined generating capacity of 1896 MWe. Together they provide about 3% of the country's electricity. A third unit at the Angra site was planned as the twin to unit 2, but construction work never began despite the delivery of about 70% of the plant components. However, after receiving final approval, Eletronuclear began work in June 2010 to complete the 1220 MWe pressurized water reactor, which could enter into commercial operation in 2015."

(source: world nuclear news)

2009, March: Completion of Angra-3?

"An environmental licence has been given for work towards completing Angra 3, a power reactor Brazil put on hold some 23 years ago.
The Brazilian Institute of Environmental and Renewable Resources (Ibama) granted a licence for Eletronuclear's project yesterday, which would be valid for six years. The company needs two more licences before work can really start: from the local municipality of Angra dos Reis and the National Commission for Nuclear Energy.
A proposal for the terms for the civil construction work has been submitted to union officials, with a decision expected within 60 days.

Eletronuclear said it expected the outstanding licences by the end of March, so that work may commence in earnest 'in the first half of 2009'. The 1220 MWe pressurized water reactor could go into commercial operation in November 2014.

The approval from Ibama comes despite apparent attempts by the department's head to make the project as difficult as possible for Eletronuclear. Sixty tough conditions were imposed on the company, including beautification of Angra and Paraty cities, maintenance of a portion of the national park as well as more relevant items such as assurances on waste disposal and radiation monitoring.

Angra 3 was planned as the twin to Angra 2 but construction work never began despite the delivery of about 70% of the plant components, which then had to be maintained over the years.

The addition of Angra 3 would take Brazil's nuclear generating capacity to 3120 MWe - about 6% of total supply. But Eletronuclear announced last year that it would select two new nuclear sites big enough for six reactor each in line with the requirements of a National Energy Plan. One site is to be in the north east, the other in the south east. Eletronuclear projected the completion of the first two north east reactors in 2019 and 2021, and the south east ones in 2023 and 2025. Ultimately, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva is proposing some 60,000 MWe of nuclear for the country."
(source: world nuclear news)

2007/2008: Construction of Angra-3 resumed

In 2007, Electronuclear received permission from the Brazilian government to resume construction of Angra-3, and the company also began the process of applying for permission from Ibama (Brazil’s environmental regulatory agency) to begin operations at the plant. Construction on Angra-3 began again in 2008. Electronuclear announced in August 2007 that it had begun the process of selecting a site for a fourth nuclear power plant in Brazil. According to the government, both of these new plants will use fuel produced in Brazil, rather than imported from Europe.

Sites With Nuclear Facilities

siteplantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
AngraAngra-1PWR 60019711982
Angra-2PWR, 120019762000