One of the wonders of the modern world

 

Seen by over 14 million people from every continent, since its inauguration, the Itaipu hydroelectric plant is, according to the American Association of Civil Engineers, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, alongside works as the bridge Golden State, the Panama Canal, the channel Tunnel, the Empire State Building and the Canadian National tower.

 

In January 2007, the plant that is proud of Brazilians and Paraguayans came to be considered one of the most important works of our time, this time in a ranking prepared by experts surveyed by CNN.

 

The binational hydroelectric plant is the result of engineering effort of Brazil and Paraguay and 40 000 workers, who overcame the challenge of converting into electricity Paraná waters, one of the mightiest rivers in the world. Synonymous with gigantism, its numbers are impressive. To give you an idea, the volume of iron and steel needed was enough to build 380 Eiffel towers.

 

In 2007, the company completed its original design with the installation of two new generating units of 700 megawatts each. Now 20 turbines totaling 14,000 megawatts of installed capacity. This power is second only to China's Three Gorges plant, which owns 22,000 megawatts. Nevertheless, as the Paraná River water system is more stable than that of the Yang- Tse, the annual output of Itaipu is superior, having reached 94 million megawatt-hours in 2008

 

Today Itaipu has become one of the main drivers of economic and social development of the border region between the two countries. The company's mission incorporates social and environmental responsibility, which is reflected in numerous programs dedicated to the environment and to the communities located near the project.

 

TOURS

 

The lake that feeds the plant is 170 kilometers long, stretching from Foz do Iguaçu to the limits between the states of Parana and Mato Grosso do Sul. The huge volume of water results in one of the most beautiful spectacles that hydroelectric offers, which is the opening of the spillway, with a rate 40 times that of the Iguaçu Falls.

 

To meet the growing number of visitors, Itaipu has invested in several improvements to its tourist complex, which includes, besides the dam itself, the Bela Vista Biological Refuge, the Ecomuseum and the Spawning Park. In addition, the Visitor Reception Center has been redesigned and the plant has a new attraction: the Dam lighting.

 

Tours by Itaipu are divided into Special Tour, Tourist Excursion and visit Institutional Technical-scientific. For the average tourist, the recommended is the Special Tour, which includes passes through the central and spillway lookout points.

© SILVIO MEIRELES