The Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam is located on the Parana River, which is the natural border between Paraguay and Brazil and is the seventh largest river in the world. Although Argentina initially disputed the dam, negotiations and resolution of the dispute resulted in the creation of a plan to implement the Argentine-Brazilian border. Negotiations for the Itaipu power plant began between Paraguay and Brazil in the 1960s.
First of all, I suggest you read an interesting article: The largest hydroelectric power plants in the world. This list includes Itaipu.
On July 22, 1966, the Ata do Iguacu Act was agreed between the two countries and signed by their foreign ministers: the Paraguayan Minister Raul Sapena Pastor and the Brazilian Jurasi Magalhães. In 1973, an agreement was signed to permit the construction of a power plant. “Itaipu” was the name of the island that existed near this place before construction began. It means “stone that dreams and sings” or “sounding stone” in the Guarani language.
The route of the Parana River was changed on 14 October 1978 to allow the riverbed to dry up, allowing the construction of a dam. A year later, a trilateral agreement, Acordo Tripartite, was signed between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, which determined the levels of the river and the degree of their change, since at that time there were several hydroelectric power stations on the river.
On October 13, 1982, the formation of the reservoir began. By that time, work on the dam had been completed and the side channel gates were closed. During this period, there were heavy rains and floods, as a result of which the water rose by 110 meters and reached the spillway gate on October 27.
The first power unit in Itaipu began operation on May 5, 1984. Every year, until 1991, two or three units were installed. The agreement signed by the three countries contained a clause stating that the number of simultaneously operating power units could not exceed 18. However, in September 2006 and then in March 2007, the last two of the 20 power units were put into operation. At this point, the power plant was completed and the installed capacity increased to 14 GW.
Ten of the 20 generator sets operate at 60 Hz for Brazil and 10 operate at 50 Hz for Paraguay. The production of Paraguayan generators far exceeds the load in Paraguay, so most of the energy is directly exported to Brazil, from where two 800 km long 600 kV high voltage direct current lines provide energy to the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and the areas around them. The terminal equipment there converts the power to 60 Hz.
The site of the dam was once home to the Guaira Falls, the largest waterfall in the world by volume, but the entire national park was liquidated by the Brazilian government and flooded. Before the destruction of the waterfall, tourists from all over the world gathered here for the last time. At some point, the bridge that overlooked the waterfall collapsed due to the heavy load, and 80 people died.
About 10,000 families who lived near the Parana River were displaced. 40,000 Brazilian and Paraguayan workers were involved in the construction of the dam. The amount of concrete used for the Itaipu power plant is equal to the construction of 210 Maracana football stadiums, and enough iron to build 380 Eiffel Towers. The volume of stone and earth excavated at Itaipu is 8.5 times that of the Channel Tunnel, and the volume of concrete used is 15 times greater. The Itaipu Dam is one of the most expensive structures ever built in the world.
Itaipu has 14 segmented spillways with a maximum discharge of 62.2 thousand cubic meters per second, which is 40 times the flow of the Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world. The height of the dam is 195 meters, which is equivalent to a 65-storey building. The energy generated by the Itaipu Dam is 55 percent cheaper than other types of power plants in the area.
In 2016, the Itaipu Dam hydroelectric plant set a new world record by generating more power than any other plant in the world: 103,098,366 megawatt hours (MWh). In 2015 and 2016, Itaipu surpassed the Three Gorges in energy production.
On November 10, 2009, the station’s power line was completely disrupted, possibly due to a hurricane that damaged three high-voltage power lines. There was no other major damage to the dam, but the entire country of Paraguay was shut down for 15 minutes, and Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo were plunged into darkness for more than 2 hours. It is reported that 50 million people were affected.
The Itaipu Dam is incredible and in 1994 the American Society of Civil Engineers recognized it as one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. The American composer Philip Glass composed the Itaipu symphonic cantata in honor of the building.