GE Renewable Energy has received a contract for technological upgrade works at the 14GW Itaipu hydropower plant in Brazil.

Located on the Paraná River between Brazil and Paraguay, the Itaipu plant was commissioned in 1984 and is said to be the world’s second-largest hydropower plant.

A consortium led by GE Renewable Energy’s hydropower business will upgrade the power plant, with its primary focus being on updating the plant’s technology.

The scope of work includes upgrading equipment and systems of all 20 power generating units at the power facility.

It will also involve improving the plant’s measurement, protection, control, regulation and monitoring systems.

GE will supply energy management systems, medium voltage cubicles and automation technology, as well as delivering protection, control and supervision systems for the generating units, GIS substation and the existing 500kV transmission lines.

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In addition, the firm will deliver two new compact GIS substations.

The power plant upgrade work is expected to take 14 years and is being supported by the Paraguayan partner companies CIE and Tecnoedil.

CIE will be responsible for the assembly, while Tecnoedil will supply general materials.

GE Renewable Energy Hydro Solutions CEO and president Pascal Radue said: “Because of its relevance in providing clean energy to the people of Paraguay and Brazil, Itaipu is key to avoiding future energy crises and ensuring affordable energy for generations to come.”

Itaipu executive technical director David Krug said that the power plant’s technology should be upgraded as many assets are still analogue or technologically outdated and have been in operation for almost 40 years.

Krug said: “If we upgrade the plant technologically, the problem of spare parts is eliminated.

“The big advantage is this – we are upgrading the plant to a new state of the art facility and, in doing so, improving the efficiency of the operation and maintenance processes.”