Brazil to turn off thermal plants as rains, wind power help

Brazil will turn off 2,000 megawatts of thermal power generation on Saturday as conditions improve for its hydro power system after recent rains, Energy Minister Eduardo Braga said on Wednesday.

A steady stream of new wind power generation capacity coming on line lately and a fall on consumption as consumers feel the pinch of the slowing economy also helped to reduce the need to use expensive thermal power plants, the government said.

Brazil, which mostly relies on hydro power, had to resort to a network of backup thermal plants after two years of drought sharply reduced water levels at the main reservoirs.

The worst power crisis in 15 years left huge debts on the sector’s books that the government is trying to work out.

Braga said that turning off the thermal plants will reduce generation costs by 5.5 billion reais ($1.58 billion) this year.

But the country will still maintain connected some 10,000 megawatts of thermal production.

The plants that will be disconnected have a production cost above 600 reais per megawatt hour (MWh), while hydro plants produce power for around 120 reais per MWh on average.