By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – During 2011 Brazil’s two nuclear power plants generated 15,644,251 megawatt hours (MWh) setting new national records, said Eletronuclear, a subsidiary of the Brazilian energy giant Eletrobras. The increase was attributed to the steam generator of Angra 1, introduced in 2009, which has gradually improved the output of the plant.

Nuclear power plant at Angra dos Reis in Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil News
Nuclear power plant at Angra dos Reis in Rio de Janeiro State, Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Director of Operations and Marketing at Eletronuclear, Pedro Figueiredo, celebrated the performance of nuclear power plants. “Angra 1 has thirty years of operation and never generated so much. And Angra 2, [in ten years], has not.”

The two existing plants (located in Angra dos Reis to the west of greater Rio,) currently supply around a third of the energy used in Rio de Janeiro state, and 3.17 percent of Brazil’s total consumption.

A third nuclear power plant is scheduled to go online towards the beginning of 2016. When the new plant becomes operational it is expected to almost double Brazil’s nuclear energy supply.

The vast majority of Brazil’s electricity (91 percent) comes from hydroelectric power plants.

Besides nuclear, the remainder of Brazil’s energy requirement is currently fulfilled by thermoelectric power plants which are “old, expensive and dirty,” according to a report by Brazil’s national communications bureau, Agência Brasil.

One megawatt hour of energy produced thermally costs around R$71.31, compared to R$20.41 for the same unit of nuclear power.

Concerns about the stability of nuclear power were heightened after the disaster in Japan in March of 2011, and the minimal escape routes for residents of the Angra dos Reis area. However Eletronuclear issued a statement at the time saying that the region has a low risk of earthquakes or tsunamis.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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