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World Small Hydropower

Development Report 2013

Published in 2013 by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and International Center
on Small Hydro Power (ICSHP).
2013 UNIDO and ICSHP
All rights reserved
This report was jointly produced by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and International Center on
Small Hydro Power (ICSHP) to provide information about small hydropower. The document has been produced without formal
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Recommended citation:
Liu, H., Masera, D. and Esser, L., eds. (2013). World Small Hydropower Development Report 2013. United Nations Industrial
Development Organization; International Center on Small Hydro Power. Available from

construction and assembly of electromechanical

generation equipment. Today, the country masters the
technology of implementing hydropower ventures,
whether it is large or small-scale.

2 Americas
2.3 South America
2.3.3 Brazil

Small hydropower sector overview and potential

In Brazil small hydropower plants are defined as
hydropower developments with power above 1 MW
and below 30 MW, and with a maximum flooded area
of 3 km, as per Law No.9648/98. On 9 December
2003, with Resolution No.652, the flooded area was
authorized to reach 13 km, provided it met the
equation A(14,3P)/Hb, where P is the power of the
venture, given in Megawatts (MW) and Hb is the
ventures available gross head, given in metres; or
when the reservoir has been designed based on other
uses which are not for power generation.

Geraldo Lcio Tiago Filho, Camila Galhardo and

Luciano Silva, National Reference Centre for Small
Hydropower Plants (CERPCH), Brazil
Key facts

Rain pattern

8,515,692 km
Mostly tropical but temperate in south
Mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north;
some plains, hills, mountains, and
narrow coastal belt (highest point: Pico
da Neblina, 2,994 m)
Northwest (Amazon basin): uniform
rainfall, up to 3,000 mm/year. Central
interior: rainy season December to
February. Northeast: 500 -1,150 mm/
year depending on the zone. Narrow
coastal belt: South: uniform rainfall,
1,250-2,000 mm/year. Southeast and
West-Centre: 1,500-2,000 mm/year.

Hydroelectric ventures with power below 1 MW are

classified as Hydroelectric Generation Plants (CGH)
and receive different treatment from the National
Agency of Electric Energy (ANEEL) on registration
procedures. According to data from ANEEL on 31
December 2011, Brazil had 373 plants operating with
a power of up to 1 MW, totaling 217 MW, and 423
plants with a power of 1 to 30 MW, corresponding to
3,889 MW. Of these ventures, the majority of the
concessions are generally granted for private capital.

Electricity sector overview

Approximately 9.7 million Brazilians do not have
access to electricity, despite the relatively high
electrification rate of 95 per cent. The Luz Para Todos
Program aims to use small photovoltaic systems and
micro hydro facilities to overcome the deficiency in
electrification. It benefits approximately 1.24 million
people through 247,862 connections.

Brazil still has a small hydropower potential of 22,500

MW (figure 2).
Among the latest small hydropower research
programmes in Brazil in the last five years, the
following stand out: improving the quality of hydraulic
turbines through numeric computational systems for
designing the flow in turbines; distribution of losses in
electric generators; use of automated operation
systems and supervision of generator groups; use of
group generators with variable rotation; studies on the
interaction of fish-friendly hydraulic turbines; research
on the behavior of Brazilian fish for preservation
purposes; restocking of fish into the river; the
development of procedures for designing suitable
transposition mechanisms for tropical and temperate
climate fish. There are also studies on movable dams,
equipment and devices for low and very low heads,
hydrokinetic turbines, system supervision by
telemetry and the use of asynchronous generators
interconnected to the grid.

As of 2011, Brazil had an installed power generating

capacity of 117,134 MW. Hydropower is the most
important electricity generation technology in Brazil,
as can be seen in Figure 2 below. Furthermore, Brazil
was the worlds second largest hydropower producer
in 2009 (391 TWh) and the worlds third largest in
terms of installed hydropower capacity in 2008 with
78 GW.
Oil and


Figure 1 Electricity generation in Brazil

Source: Empresa de Pesquisa Energtica, Ministerio de
Minas e Energia

Brazil has a highly developed value chain for small

hydropower, not only with a turbine manufacturing
sector, but offering other small hydropower services in
civil works/building, engineering, operations and

The Brazilian hydropower sector has acquired

significant experience and knowledge in the design,

In Brazil, the investments in small hydropower projects

are made through bank loans, mainly from the







National Bank of Social Development (BNDES), which

offers lines of credit with a grace period of up to six
months after the project enters commercial operation,
an amortization period of up to 12 years and a
constant amortization system.
SHP installed capacity (up to 10 MW)

generating capacity require simplified environmental

The energy policies of Brazil can be summarized to
those relating to the market (feed-in-tariff, auctions
and biofuel mandates), to finance (funds available for
infrastructure), to debt funding and tax based polices
consisting of tax relief, import duty and tax rebates.

1023 MW

SHP potential (up to 10 MW)


SHP installed capacity (up to 30 MW)

4106 MW

SHP potential (up to 30 MW)

Legislation on small hydropower

Law 9658 of 1998 created incentives to encourage the
use of small hydropower by allowing small
hydropower producers to sell the energy directly to
the consumers via the grid at a 50 per cent discount
rate for grid use. In addition the recent Law 10438/02
gave way for the Incentive Program for Alternative
Electric Generation (Programma de Incentivo a Fonres
Alternativas, PROINFA) that aims to encourage the
linkage of small hydropower, inter alia, with the
national grid. The second stage of PROINFA is
currently underway with the main objective of
attaining 10 per cent of electricity production, over
the next 20 years, from renewable sources.

22500 MW


12000 18000 24000 30000

Figure 2 Small hydropower capacities in Brazil

The decreasing share of small hydropower in the
countrys renewable energy mix is associated with the
growth of wind energy. In the years of 2006-2008
small hydropower gained its highest amount of grant
aid to diminishing amounts from 2009 onwards
reaching its lowest grant gains in 2011.
The 2009-2019 Ten-Year Plan (PDE) predicted a growth
rate of 72.3 per cent for small hydropower in 2009,
however, this estimate dropped down to 69.4 per cent
in the 2010 PDE.

Barriers to small hydropower development

Small hydropower currently faces disadvantage among
renewable energy sources, mainly in comparison to
wind energy, which has more incentives. Small
hydropower has lost competitiveness and has
difficulty in competing within the regulated market. As
far as other energy sources are concerned, the cost of
constructing and operating small hydropower plants
has been shown to be more expensive. The costs for
civil construction and electro-mechanical equipment
are elevated and are not covered by tax exemptions
unlike the equipment for wind farms, which are
exempt from taxes such as the Tax on Circulation of
Goods and Services (ICMS). Also, the environmental
licensing processes pose a challenge.

In 2012, the National Interconnected System increased

its electrical capacity by 1.212 MW from which small
hydropower plants covered 21 MW.
Renewable energy policy
According to (PDE) of 2020, the participation of
renewable sources such as hydro, wind, ethanol and
biomass in the Brazilian energy matrix will rise from
45.5 per cent in 2011 to 46.2 per cent by 2020.
According to the PDE 2020, the Brazilian Government
predicts that the electric matrix will, in relation to
small hydropower, present 4,957 MW (3.5 per cent) in
2015 and 6,447 MW (3.8 per cent) in 2020. The
increase is not very significant, but when observing
the growth rate of other renewable energies in the
country, it can be seen that governmental incentives,
like tax exemption, are having positive results.

1. Central Intelligence Agency (2012). The World
Factbook. Available from
2. Faccio Carvalho, Paulo Csar (n.d.). Country
Pasture/Forage Resource Profiles Brazil.
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations. Available from
3. Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Multilateral
Investment Fund (2012). Climatescope 2012: Assessing
the Climate for Climate Investing in Latin America and
the Caribbean. New York. Available from
4. Organizacin Latinoamericana de Energa (2012).
2012 Energy Statistics Report. Quito.
5. International Energy Agency (2011). World Energy

The Environmental National Council (CONAMA)

Resolution 01/86, in Article II states that powergenerating plants having power above 10 MW are
activities that are potentially impacting the
environment and are therefore Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Impact Report
(EIR) liable, regardless of the primary energy source .
Under this legislation, EIA is required for all small
hydropower projects with generating capacities
ranging between 10 and 30 MW. Furthermore, small
hydropower projects are also classified as ventures
with a high impact to the environment, graded as
three in a classification of one to five. Small
hydropower projects with less than 10 MW of

Outlook 2011, 9 November 2011. Paris.

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Minas e Energia (2012). Balano Energtico Nacional,
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