Brazil approves Belo Monte hydroelectric dam

Brazil’s government has granted the license to build the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Water Resources (IBAMA) gave the go ahead for the dam, which […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Brazil’s government has granted the license to build the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam.

The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Water Resources (IBAMA) gave the go ahead for the dam, which will be the third-largest in the world, to be built on the Amazon’s Xingu River.

IBAMA said the Belo Monte Dam was an important step for Brazil “to maintain its hydro-based electricity mix, one of the most clean and renewable in the world.”

Hydropower accounts for 13% of Brazil’s energy supply and the largest chunk of its renewable energy, generating nearly 400,000 GWh electricity in 2008 according to the International Energy Agency.

The plans have been contentious in local communities in Brazil, with some campaigners such as Amazon Watch claiming that 20,000 people will be forced out of their homes when the Xingu River’s course is diverted.

A statement from the government said that “robust technical analysis” had weighed up social and environmental gains to make sure that flow of water in the river should least “affect ecosystems and the livelihoods of local populations”.