BRASILIA, Sept 21 (Reuters) - China's State Power Investment
Corp (SPIC) is operating only three or four of its
six turbines at its Sao Simao hydroelectric dam in Brazil each
day, the chief executive of its Brazilian unit told Reuters on
Tuesday, as a record drought roils the energy sector.
Water inflows at Brazil's hydroelectric plants during the
2020-2021 rainy season were the lowest in 91 years, according to
the Mines and Energy Ministry, with relief set to come only when
rains likely return in November.
SPIC Brasil Chief Executive Adriana Waltrick said that a
natural gas power plant, GNA, was launched last week, in which
the company is one of several investors, and its 1.3 gigawatt
capacity is being put to full use immediately to help offset the
nationwide decline in hydro output.
Waltrick said she foresees potential operational
difficulties ahead but that there is little chance that water
rationing will be necessary, citing improvements in the overall
electric system since the last major drought that required
"It is possible there will be some difficulties in the
system's peak (usage) periods. We think that there is low
probability of rationing depending on rains from now until the
end of November," she said.
Climate change, and the resulting increased risk of extreme
weather events like the drought, means the electric sector needs
to change the way it operates, Waltrick said.
That includes increasing solar and wind output, but hybrid
models - such as integrating hydro plants with solar panels and
batteries - are also needed, she said.
SPIC Brasil is additionally exploring hydrogen fuel
technology in the country.
The company plans to continue expanding in natural gas, with
the second phase of the GNA project to launch in 2025 and two
further phases of expansion to depend on federal energy
auctions. SPIC holds a 33% stake in the project in partnership
with BP, Siemens and Prumo Logistica.
(Reporting by Jake Spring in Brasilia
Editing by Matthew Lewis)