The new Jirau Hydropower Plant, on the Madeira River, in the State of Rondônia, Northern Brazil, was officially inaugurated on December 16th 2016, after 90 months of construction. Tractebel’s Brazilian subsidiary, LEME Engenharia, has been working on this project since it started. The fully operational plant has an installed capacity of 3,750 MW, enough to serve approximately 10 million homes.
Award-winning axis design
The axis design of Brazil’s 4th largest HPP was suggested by LEME Engenharia’s experts before the Jirau tender. By moving the axis 10km downstream from the original location, they were able to significantly reduce the amount of excavation required and thus reduce the project’s CAPEX by 10%. This was a crucial factor in the success of ENGIE’s bid.
Total project management
From the outset, LEME Engenharia has been closely involved in all aspects of the project in close collaboration with the client, Energia Sustentável do Brasil, a Special Purpose Company in charge of Jirau’s implementation, in which ENGIE is the main shareholder with a 40% stake.
LEME Engenharia controlled a budget of US $3.8 billion and managed over 100 contracted parties. It carried out environmental impact studies, executed the civil and electromechanical basic design and was the owner’s engineer for the technical management of the construction, supply, assembly and commissioning contracts. It also prepared the bidding documents for the electromechanical works, including the technical specifications, and issued instructions to bidders and terms of reference.
In the field, LEME Engenharia took care of about 1,700 daily technical integration meetings between the various companies involved in the project. At the peak of the project, there were some 25,000 workers on site from all over Brazil, as well as a contingent from China.
The world’s largest bulb turbine HPP
Jirau HPP has 50 bulb turbines which are the most powerful ever manufactured with unit installed capacities of 75 MW, and are designed to operate under low head. They are housed in powerhouses on each bank of the Madeira River, one with 28 generating units, the other with 22. A team from Tractebel in France has also worked in the project being in charge of the design control and manufacturing supervision of the elements of Jirau’s turbines manufactured in China.
The plant started commercial operations on September 6th 2013. Full commercial operation started in November 2016 when Jirau HPP obtained commercial release from Brazil’s National Electric Energy Agency. Jirau HPP is connected to the National Interconnected System by three 500 kV circuits, each with an extension of 94 km and the corresponding connections at the Porto Velho’s Collector Substation.
Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman of ENGIE, attended the inauguration event alongside Victor Paranhos, CEO of Energia Sustentável do Brasil; Maurício Bähr, CEO of ENGIE BU Brazil; Cláudio Maia, CEO of LEME Engenharia and of Tractebel in Latin America; and Rogério Zamparoni, LEME Engenharia’s Director of Jirau Project.