Itaipu hydropower plant, located on the Paraná River at the Brazil-Paraguay border, began operation on May 5, 1984, when the first of the 18 initially planned generation units was synchronized. The 18th unit was commissioned seven years later. In 1991, Itaipu’s installed capacity totalled 12,600 MW. The last two of the meanwhile installed 20 units, started operation in September 2006 and March 2007, raising the capacity to 14 000 MW. Voith supplied more than 50 per cent of the equipment.
In 2000, the plant produced its first generating record of 93 400 GWh, supplying 95 per cent of the eletric energy consumed in Paraguay and 20 per cent of Brazil’s consumed energy. The new record of energy production was established in 2008, when it reached a total of 94 600 GWh. Nowadays, it provides 16,99 per cent of the energy consumed in Brazil, and supplies 72,91 per cent of the energy consumed by Paraguay.
Although the Chinese Three Gorges project on the Yangtze surpasses Itaipu in terms of total installed capacity, the South American power station remains unrivaled in its annual energy production.
With 20 machines in operation and favorable hydrological conditions due to the steady flow of the Paraná compared to the Yangtze, Itaipu is expected to reach an annual output of over 95 000 GWh, compared to a currently estimated 100 000 GWh for Three Gorges. A treaty between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina limits the maximum number of generating units allowed to operate simultaneously to 18. Nevertheless, this allows for 18 generation units to remain running all the time, while two are off line for maintenance.